In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Residential Life implemented a strict ‘no guest’ policy in all of the residential halls.
This policy basically states that only residents of each residential hall are permitted in their respective buildings. Any outside guests will be asked to leave and violators—both the resident and their guest—will be written up and sent to Student Conduct and Integrity.
The only exception to this policy was during move-in. Even then, residents were only permitted two guests to help move in and everyone was required to wear a mask. Additionally, residents were only allowed a one-to-two-hour window to move in.
This varied greatly from previous years when residents had practically all day to move in.
The policy is applicable to all undergraduate students; however, professional staff who live in apartments in residential halls, are not required to abide by the policy. They are strongly encouraged to follow it, but not obliged to.
While I understand the intentions behind the policy, is it possible it is contributing to students’ poor mental health?
At the beginning of the year, new students were eager to become involved on campus. However, Greek Life was temporarily suspended, and other organizations could not host in-person events.
This made it especially difficult for new students to find their home on campus. Many people were in a new environment with little or no existing social connections on campus.
Additionally, some residents do not have roommates. It became difficult to make friends because of everything being moved virtually. With few people to turn to, it is understandable that some students experienced mental health problems.
Clearly, in a pandemic this is to be expected. However, perhaps there are alternative options to prevent the spread of the virus whilst being mindful of students’ mental health.
Rather than completely prohibiting students from having guests, maybe guests should be required to check in at the front desk. Guests could show their valid green check mark, much like in the dining hall.
If guests fail to check in, then this could be when they would be written up and sent to Student Conduct and Integrity.
Another alternative is that only people who live on campus or go to this university could be allowed in the residential halls. Perhaps roommates could agree upon their guest policy themselves.
Another option could be to only allow students the same guest the entire semester. This would help limit traffic in the buildings while ensuring students are not completely deprived of social contact.
Many students are frustrated by the ‘no guest’ policy because at time it appears illogical.
For example, students are still interacting with each other in the Commons, Dining Hall, Rec. Center, etc. Regardless of if they are in the residential halls or not, people are still bringing the same germs with them everywhere they go.
Not to mention, front desk staff can work at any residential hall; workers from Mills Hall could traffic germs to the University Apartments and vice versa.
Housekeeping, maintenance, and other faculty members are constantly in-and-out of every building; it is possible to monitor every person who comes and goes.
Students are also frustrated that professional staff are not forced to abide by the policy. If not everyone is forced to follow it, then how can everyone else be expected to?
I understand physical health is a concern because some students could be immune compromised. But at times it appears that there is a blatant disregard for mental health.
Now more than ever students are in dire need of a support system. Simply having someone to vent to or someone who understands can make all the difference.
It can be difficult to find those people in your specific residential hall. Many students make friends through their classes, outside organizations, employment etc.
Maybe in the future Residential Life can modify its policy to suit students’ mental and physical health.