Res. Life: two guests better than one

Questions and concerns raised by RA’s and student leaders have prompted the Office of Residence Life to once again change their much-maligned visitation policies.

According to a letter written by the Rev. James Maher C.M., the University vice president for student affairs, resident students may now visit other students throughout the residence village from 6:30 a.m. until 2 a.m. throughout the week. Commuter students will only be allowed to stay in the buildings until 12 a.m., and must be signed in by a resident.

The new policy allows residents to sign in two guests, regardless of their commuter/resident status at the university. The old visitation policy only allowed for one student to be signed in by residents.

“There are a really fine group of resident assistants that presented their concerns to us,” Maher said. “They spoke about problems but also offered some good solutions. Their input helped us understand some of the difficulties of students and also come up with this new policy to try and ease that difficulty.”

In the letter, which was sent to resident students via St. John’s Central, Maher pointed to late-night group studying and socializing as the main reasons behind the policy change. Maher also stated that the overnight guest policies will not change.

University administration came under heavy criticism from the student body after they implemented a new visitation policy in Sept. 2005. The policy called for both commuters and residents to leave halls they were not residents of at midnight during the week. In addition, all students visiting residence halls needed to be signed in to buildings, however residents could only have one guest at a given time.

“This is a community with a large number of infractions and I wish it was not an issue,” said Jose Rodriguez, acting Director of Residence Life, in the Sept. 21, 2005 issue of The Torch.

“The decision to change the policy involved looking at our challenges and making sure health and safety is a priority.

An informal survey of 105 students conducted by The Torch found that 98.1 percent of resident students were upset about the new policy and 99 percent found it to be too harsh.

The visitation policy once again came under scrutiny last semester when a University freshman reported being raped in her DaSilva Hall dorm room after four men, including the alleged offender Rodney Syndor, gained access to the building by reportedly sneaking in through a first floor window.

Sometime between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, following the rape incident, the University screwed shut all of the first floor windows in Hollis and DaSilva Halls, a move that prompted more criticism.

The screws were eventually removed, according to the Oct. 26 issue of The Torch, a move that has been followed almost three months later with the easing of the Residence Village visitation policy.

“I greatly appreciate the efforts put forth by everyone who was involved in changing the previous visitation policies,” said Tom Dixon, a junior resident of O’Connor Hall. “I think that these are the first steps in the proper direction to making our dorms feel like a home instead of a place to sleep and eat.”

In addition, Montgoris Dining Hall will remain open until 2 a.m. every night, to provide a late night study area for students. Students will be required to swipe their StormCards for access into the building.

“Our focus has been to really help students as best as we can facilitate the building of the community,” Maher said. “We had a group of students express concern about that and we listened.”