VU Should Abolish Visitation Policy
Everyone holds the door open for everyone at Valpo. It’s ingrained into us at this point.
I noticed this on my first visit as a high schooler, everyone was welcoming enough to look behind them and hold the door open. Without it being a school policy, without anyone enforcing this behavior, without any consequences for not doing it. The heart of Valpo shows itself in these moments between students as the heart of a community that is welcoming to all people.
Valpo’s welcoming campus community is its strongest asset even amidst a challenging time for universities everywhere.
The beat of that heart has trouble being heard in the face of bygone campus policies such as the visitation policy. The visitation policy prohibits students from being in rooms of the opposite gender past 1 a.m. during weekdays and 2 a.m. on the weekends. What might first appear as a slight annoyance instead reveals itself to be the clear and present harm that this policy presents to student life.
While the policy, on paper, does not look particularly harmful, the ways in which the policy enacts itself puts RAs in a terrible position in which they are almost forced to act in ways that appear to be transphobic.
If you imagine the ways that this policy is enforced it goes something like this: An RA, making their late night rounds, hears what sounds like a male voice coming from a female room and because that is not allowed under this policy, the RA is obligated to knock on the door to make sure that rules are not being broken. What results is humiliation for the trans person, embarrassment for the RA, and a crack in the foundation of Valpo’s welcoming community.
Moreover, the reasons cited by the administration last week in a forum hosted by the Student Senate do not hold up to strict scrutiny. The University says it’s a measure intended to maintain campus security and student safety. However, it is not immediately clear how the visitation policy maintains security or safety.
After 7p.m., DAs sign everyone (both residents and guests) into the building, a building which is only accessible with a OneCard. All doors in the dorms have locks, and if there’s a problem, RAs are walking around the building with VUPD on speed dial.
The visitation policy does not prevent any problem that is not already prevented in other ways and it puts RAs in the impossible position of making the decision between enforcing University policy and being overly intrusive in student’s lives.
The other reason given for keeping the policy was to prevent roommate issues. However, again the policy is redundant. There is already a rule that prevents students from staying in a room that is not their own for more than 3 consecutive nights, and all students who live in the dorms make roommate agreements which are intended to address this specific issue before it becomes a problem.
Furthermore, the Student Senate commissioned a survey that stated that 73% of the campus community would like the policy to change and that only 1% thinks that the policy is good as is.
If the visitation policy were a presidential candidate, it would’ve dropped out for lack of support. Continuation of this policy would be a sign that the administration does not care for the opinions of its students, especially since there is no clear benefit to keeping this policy.
The harms of this policy were eloquently stated by non-binary student Andrew Struckman last week at the forum by the Student Senate. They stated, “If you have an RA who finds a disruptive room and knocks on the door… and it looks like there are students of multiple genders in there, but they’re actually all men some of them are trans men. This forces closeted people to out themselves to ensure they don’t get punished.”
Again, this policy causes real harm to students while providing nebulous benefits at best and non-existent at worst. If we want to continue to be known for the welcoming heartbeat that drives this campus on a day-to-day basis then it would be best for our campus policies to reflect the wishes and beliefs of the student body so that the welcoming community which is the heartbeat of this campus does not flatline.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch.