For many students, college is the step toward freedom and independence. But with recent changes to the visitor policy in the residential colleges, some students feel like a freedom has been taken away.
David Wilson, director of residential life and housing, said the rule that overnight guests are not allowed in the halls has been in place for as long as students have had the residential college system on campus.
“Last year, we had some questions with the policy and the policy against cohabitation, so we put a committee together to revisit our visitation and cohabitation policies, and to make suggestions on what we could do to improve these policies,” Wilson said. “The committee was charged with looking at policies from other schools in Kentucky and to present a policy that would be less ambiguous than the policy that we had in place.”
Wilson said the crux of the issue was what constitutes overnight.
“We had no definitive time frame and it basically came to the judgment of the person dealing with the violation,” Wilson said. “It was also difficult to explain our policy to parents when they would call to question our policy.”
Thus the committee was put into place to revisit the policy that was in place at the time.
The committee was composed of two full-time staff members, one college head, one residence director and four student leaders.
The committee met for part of the fall semester and into the spring semester. It presented its recommended revisions to the policy to Wilson and Vice President of Student Affairs Don Robertson.
The committee recommended two changes to the policy. The first was to provide a quantifiable time frame for what constitutes an overnight guest, which was deemed a six-hour time frame between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. and this would be in effect Sunday through Friday mornings.
The second recommendation was to allow, with the approval of the roommate and suite mates, overnight guests to stay from Friday at 9 a.m. until Sunday at 9 p.m.
The old rule allowed 24-hour visitation, but guests were not supposed to spend the night. They were only allowed to be awake studying or hanging out.
Austin Fields, sophomore from Bartelso, Ill., said he thinks residential college advisers and administration should allow students to make their own decisions.
“We are supposed to be adults and talk to our roommates about a problem we have,” Fields said. “If they feel like the significant other is staying over too much they should be able to talk to them. If not, the RAs are being paid to handle situations like this.”
Fields voiced his opinions to the Student Government Aassociation last week, in hopes it would pass a resolution to work on the new policy. Wednesday, the group decided to bring its concerns to the Housing Office and the Residential College Association. From there, the group will look into the policy to see if there are any problems with it.
“It isn’t fair if a significant other is living in the same residential college because they can still stay over without penalty,” Fields said. “The RAs say we can check out at three in the morning and walk back to our own room, but I don’t want my girlfriend walking back at that time of night.”
Fields said an alternative to this housing rule would be allowing the resident to choose two nights a week when their significant other may stay.
“The RAs could enforce this by keeping another log at the check-in desk, for over-night guests,” Fields said. “The log would be as simple as writing the resident’s name down on a day of the week and when they want to stay for a second night that week, you would be able to see that they have already stayed once.
Once the two days are up they can’t have any guests, including weekends.
This way allows residents to at least have some kind of freedom back,” Fields said. “My friends can’t come from out of town for concerts and other things because they can’t stay in the room I pay to live in. It’s not fair.”
Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor