Approximately 90 percent of undergraduate students live on campus, according to UD Housing and Residential Life. Only upperclassmen live in the student neighborhood housing, according to Christine Schramm, dean of students and associate vice president of student development.
The university owns a “majority” of the student housing in the surrounding areas, but not all of it. Schramm said she’s worked at the university for two decades and that the “sheet sign” culture has always played a role in the community.
Several signs simply welcomed the UD community back and reminded them to make every moment count.
“There’s no question of the longstanding tradition of sheet signs,” she said. “Welcome weekend isn’t the only time students have them.”
The university will ask students to remove the signs if they deem it inappropriate, uncivil or out of line with the university’s values. Schramm said she’s never heard of a student objecting to taking something down. Often, peers will tell a student if their sign is offensive, she said. Sheet signs are even used to build community involvement and culture through different competitions later in the semester.
If they do ask students to take down a sign, it’s usually at the beginning of the school year, Schramm said.
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Crowds of students were already back on the lawns of the student neighborhood on Saturday afternoon. A group of young women sipped on Natural Light beers as they walked down the street.
Other students sat in circles in plastic lawn furniture and waded in children’s swimming pools. Many sheet signs echoed sentiments of a party culture already on display before classes started. Written messages included: “You can always retake the class but you can never relive the party” and “College, where you can never get a grip, but can always get a handle.”
Other universities were under fire last year for “offensive” banners displayed by students. In Virginia, Old Dominion University was criticized after a fraternity posted signs saying: “Freshmen daughter drop off. Go ahead and drop mom off too.”
Schramm said that is not the community culture that UD has created or maintained. “That’s not our story,” she said.