ResLife Turns off Holiday Lights in McMahon



(Courtesy of terri Bennett Enterprises/MCT)


For the first time in 20 years, residents in McMahon Hall are prohibited from hanging up holiday lights in their dorm rooms.

(Courtesy of terri Bennett Enterprises/MCT)

Facilities Manager Leslie Timoney stated that the decision to ban the hanging of the holiday lights was based on incidents that took place over the past 20 years. The first major incident that occurred was the injury of an Alvin Ailey dance student 15 years ago. “We first were alerted to the holiday light problem by the Ailey School when a top dancer was injured—cut her foot on broken holiday lights in her apartment. We then had guidelines in the handbook about how to correctly hang the lights and to only have them during the holidays,” Timoney said.

One of the incidents involving the holiday lights that Timoney observed was that students would leave the holiday lights hung up all year in their rooms. The student handbook for Residential Life policies states, “Holiday lights are only permitted in McMahon Hall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s due to the fire and tripping hazards they pose.” However, other incidents over the 20 years have taken place endangering the safety of the residents as well as creating damage to the facility, leading the Residential staff to ban the hanging of holiday lights completely this school year.

Some students are unaffected and unaware of the banning of holiday lights in McMahon like Tristan Paguio, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’15. “My roommates and I haven’t decorated for anything, but I’ve seen plenty of rooms that enjoy putting in the effort. I’m also unaware of why they banned the lights in the first place,” Paguio said.

According to Timoney, some of the incidents included residents hanging holiday lights on sprinkler heads or too close to them, hanging them across the room creating a safety hazard, or using the holiday lights to make obscene words and pictures in the building. Other incidents included the students incorrectly removing the holiday lights leaving behind tape or sticky residue that attracted dust or ripping the tape in a manner that damaged the wall. “We educated staff and informed students of the proper way to hang lights. But we still had problems with lights being left up all year long. So then we limited the use to just the holidays,” Timoney said. “But that hasn’t worked and we still have damage during move-out related to the hanging of lights.”

Fanni Hedegus, FCLC’15 and a resident at McMahon Hall, is bothered by the decision of banning holiday lights but is also understanding to the reasons that led to that result. “I find that it is a little annoying because it prevents decoration, but at the same time I understand where Reslife is coming from since it could be a safety issue potentially,” Hedegus said.

Others such as Erika Fisher,  FCLC ’15, found that the ban of holiday lights negatively impacts the students’ moods throughout the semester. “I feel like it puts a damper on the spirit of the holiday season. Being away from home, having to pull all-nighters to study for finals, and the general stress of being a college student reaching the end of the semester is already troublesome. Hanging holiday lights would add cheer,” Fisher said.