By Peter Baugher
“Lady in the Hall…. Man in the Hall”
All of us here at Franciscan University have witnessed the school’s visitation policies, whether or not we are dating. These policies may sometimes seem annoying or inconvenient. However, they exist for a reason and are perfectly fair and responsible under Christian moral principles and based on the wealth of spaces on campus and the rights and dignity of students.
According to University policy, students may only visit the dorm room of the opposite gender during certain weekend hours and may only visit common rooms from noon until 1 a.m.
First, there are plenty of spaces for couples or even friends of the opposite gender (that’s a debate for another time) to spend private time together. In nice weather, students can go for a walk or enjoy the many benches and gazebos on campus.
Throughout the year, the cafeteria and the JC are open for most of the day, and while not totally private spaces, both offer an environment for “co-ed” groups or pairs to converse and enjoy each other’s company. The library even has personal study rooms.
Further, students ought to realize that they do not own their dorm room and that their roommate is paying an equal amount for it. Should he or she be forced to choose between witnessing PDA and leave the room that he or she is paying thousands of dollars to live in? Is that fair?
Both roommates are paying for the same room; both are sharing in every sense but the legal title. However, guests are not part of that arrangement. Logically, both roommates should have to consent to another person entering the room.
Now, what if the roommates agree, but University policy refuses to recognize this agreement? Well, since Franciscan owns the title to the rooms, it can make and enforce any policy it wants. However, does that mean that the rules are fair?
Although college students are adults who should resolve conflicts in a mature way, two facts are often overlooked in the debate over dorm visitation policy. First, the students often do not choose each other as roommates and often have a limited ability remove themselves from difficult circumstances. Second, Franciscan dorms are a single room, with no privacy or security dividers, and as such are very personal spaces that are often shared with practical strangers.
Thus, without recourse to higher authorities, students cannot be expected to reject requests from a roommate because they are already in a vulnerable situation. Retaliation is very possible in community living, from intentionally obnoxious behavior to stealing and even serious threats or manipulation.
Overall, students have a right to privacy which includes a right to feeling secure one’s own dorm. However, by the very nature of communal living circumstances, it is difficult for someone to deny the visit of a roommate’s significant other without some limitations. University visitation policy provides these very limits.
Finally, this is a Catholic campus that prides itself on promoting the faith. Many colleges and universities have more prestigious academics, more programs and a lower tuition rate.
Franciscan stands apart, however, not only because of its Catholic identity, but also because of its authentic practice of the faith. While some students choose Franciscan for the academics, the athletics, the campus and perhaps even the location, in my experience, faith is always at the top of the list. To choose this campus above all others and then expect it to sacrifice Catholic values is unfair to the University and to those who chose it with the aim of growing in the Catholic faith.