No more sneaking around

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

The Residence Hall Association (RHA) executive board is proposing 24-hour visitation within the residence halls for next fall.

In a meeting held Feb. 13, the board, hall representatives and residents discussed the issue and came to an agreement that RHA should pursue the it.

The council will now survey the opinions of current residents in the residence halls and have each hall government vote at their next meeting. If the halls want 24-hour visitation, RHA will collect signatures and present a petition to residential life.

Eric Hanson, the RHA secretary, is in favor of the change. 24-hour visitation makes sense with nationwide changes in students’ late-night studying habits and cultural norms and a nationwide shift to 24-hour visitation at universities, he said.

At SDSU, the recent hall improvements – such as card swipers and new doors within buildings – create a safer environment in the residence halls, and so students should be allowed more freedom once inside the building, he said.

In addition to the hall improvements, the restructuring of residential life and a new administration at SDSU are creating new opportunities to change the visitation policy.

“In the Department of Residential Life and the administration, there is a change in mindset to 24-hour visitation and an openness for at least a discussion to see what students would like,” Hanson said.

Amanda Knutson, a Resident Assistant in Hansen Hall, sees many benefits to the new plan. She said residents would not fear the RAs as much in the later hours, the opposite gender would not use the other genders’ bathrooms as much and opposite genders could pick each other up for class.

As an RA, Knutson said the current policy is not hard to enforce, but the residents are adults. It can be hard to say, “Yes, you are at college, but no you can’t have your friend over,” she said.

Hanson feels 24-hour visitation would put SDSU “in line” with other universities, which would help with recruitment and would help prepare students for life. “Once you step into the real world, you’re no longer separated by a door that’s locked at a certain hour that cuts you off from other people,” he said.

Although 24-hour visitation would provide many benefits to SDSU students, both Knutson and Hanson said safety could become an issue. They did not foresee the level of safety changing much, though. Even with the current policy, Knutson said, “If someone is really trying to get on the floor, they will get on the floor no matter what.”

Currently, Caldwell has 24-hour visitation and Jeff Hughes, Caldwell’s RHA representative, feels that safety issues have not been a problem. Although he recognizes that students in Caldwell must meet certain requirements to live in the hall, he said, “Most every person on campus is rational and will make reasonable decisions.”

Still, Hughes, Knutson and Hanson would like to see some extra safety measures be put it place with 24-hour visitation. One suggestion at the RHA meeting was to have all guests sign in when they enter a hall.

“The sign in does promote a level of accountability and responsibility for what happens,” said Hanson. “It’s more of a hassle, but if people feel it will benefit and promote safety, then it is something that needs to be done.”

The only problem Knutson sees with the sign in idea is that currently the desks are not open 24 hours a day.

Another option is to have residents escort or at least be accountable for their guests while they are in the hall.

Knutson and Hughes would like to see guests escorted by residents, because the RAs get to know the people in the hall and will be able to question an unfamiliar person.

“It’s a simple solution, and it’s highly effective,” said Hughes. “It gives the RAs an easy way to discern who’s causing trouble and who isn’t and still allows students to have 24-hour visitation.”

As for residents, many think 24-hour visitation is a good idea. “I think it happens anyway,” said Jenna Effling, a freshman who lives in Mathews Hall. “Visitation hours are not that enforced.”

Catherine Grandorff, a sophomore English and Spanish major, said, “The residents pay for the residence halls, and we should be allowed to make our own decisions and dictate who’s in the space that we’re paying for and when.”

Still, some residents can see where the policy change could cause problems. Liz Jeppesen is not personally against 24-hour visitation, but she can see how people might be bothered when they are trying to sleep and the number of people in their room doubles because both boys and girls can now be in the room.

RHA plans to have more discussions about 24-hour visitation in the future, starting with the individual hall government meetings, because in the end, a policy change will be the decision of the students.

“If students are in favor of doing this, there’s a strong likelihood that the policy change will happen,” said Hanson.

“Residential Life’s motto is ‘Our Halls, Your Home’,” said Knutson. “That will come into effect, and it will be the residents’ opinion.”

#1.882796:3860842262.jpg:visitationILLUSTRATION_SBweb.jpg::Stephen Brua