The Floor Standards Process
For Traditional Residence Halls
What are floor standards?
Floor Standards are the agreements made by the residents on a given floor concerning how we will relate to each other and treat each other. While Floor Standards can be seen as a product—a list of agreements and expectations, Floor Standards is a process by which we begin forming a healthy community through dialogue, compromise, and commitment. Floor Standards evolve and therefore the process is never finished. Because Floor Standards evolve, they should not be thought of as a task to be completed but as a means by which interactions occur.
An important aspect of Floor Standards is discussing and deciding how we will hold ourselves accountable for agreements and expectations. Discussing the issue of responsibility and accountability of each resident to every other resident can be difficult. This difficulty comes because many of us believe that someone else (i.e., a community advisor, Public Safety, assistant community coordinator) is responsible for making sure that I get exactly what I want. Another way to think of this is that many of us do not want to stand up for ourselves. Equally difficult can be the thought of holding a peer to a standard.
Floor Standards is an on going process that defines mutual expectations for how the community will function on an interpersonal level. Floor Standards further provide a mechanism for the community to respond to behaviors that violate the agreements of the floor.
Why have floor standards?
In Residence Life at Wright State University we espouse that you, college students, are maturing adults. This means that you are making choices and learning from the outcomes of your choices. The young adult years are perceived as years of freedom, experimentation, limit finding, and limit testing. If the experiences during these years are to lead to an increased ability to make mature judgments then you must have the opportunity to make decisions so that you can experience the result of those decisions. An important area of decision making for college students concerns lifestyle and personal conduct.
Traditional college-age people typically reject "rules" imposed from the "outside". They may reject authorities who appear to be trying to deny them their "freedom" or independence". At the very same time they may become angry with authorities who don't meet their needs at the time when they want their needs met. Floor Standards provides a means by which your expectations of the authority to meet your needs are shifted to a recognition that the individual and the community must work together to create an environment that best meets everyones' needs. The authority (CA) becomes a person who helps this process to happen instead of someone who fixes things for you or someone who always punishes behavior that is not in line with expectations.
If every student lived in perfect isolation, he or she could conduct him or herself in any way. In reality, we exist within a tightly networked society. This means our behavior impacts other people, and in the same way, the behavior of other peoples impacts us. Because we are affected by one another's behavior, we tend to have expectations about what we consider O.K. for the other person to do. We may or may not realize that our behavior affects others or we may believe that everyone has the same expectations that we have. This last concept can extend to a point where we believe that everyone has the same expectations at the same time, i.e. if I want to listen to music now, everyone wants to listen to music now.
If we are to live together in reasonable harmony, we must have the opportunity to express our expectations of how we want to be affected by others. By discussing these expectations you hear the range of expectations and therefore have a harder time holding on to the belief that everyone does "X" or that everyone wants the same thing that you want. Out of an awareness of expectations, you and your peers can discuss your different expectations and come to agreement on ways that you can live with the differences or compromise around the differences. This process may not be easy because it requires many people to achieve new understandings and new behaviors quickly. One of these is the ability to consider another's point of view as being valid and thus needing to be taken into consideration in one's point of view.
The contest of learning that is created by the Floor Standards discussion can be a powerful tool to encourage student development and a healthy community. We have already identified how the process can cause an awareness of others. It can also encourage you to build self-esteem through declaring oneself, through assertive interactions, and through the empowerment that comes from group agreement. By establishing Floor Standards and shared responsibility, you and your peers are empowered to deal with problems before they occur.
What about ORS, AMS and Univeristy policies and procedures
ORS, AMS, and the University have policies and procedures by which all residents must abide. They represent the basic safety and management issues necessary to assure reasonable quality-of-life for all residents. Primarily they establish minimum behavioral expectations and are in agreement with local, state, and federal laws. Floor Standards do not replace these, nor may they be in violation of these. For example, a floor may not form a standard that candles be burned at each floor meeting as ORS has a policy against candle burning. However, these policies and procedures are of such basic nature that they should not impede a floor's ability to create the standards they desire. For a complete list of these please consult the Sourcebook.
How are floor standards developed
Floor Standards are developed through group discussion and consensus. Through this format each resident is afforded the opportunity to assert his/her point of view. An underlying tenet of this system is the belief that in order to have one's needs met, one must accept responsibility for participation in the system designed to negotiate one's needs. Through implementing the Floor Standards model, we are providing the opportunity for you to learn that you are responsible for your experience, and that you are not simply passive recipients of your experience. Recognition of this concept can lead to personal empowerment.
The staff person on your floor knows a great deal about Floor Standards. It's a long but beneficial process. Please feel free to ask questions and by all means, get involved!