The goal is a secure environment.
The University's visitation policy covers everything from claiming guests to sleep-overs at all residence halls on campus.
And according to Carla Dennis, the assistant to the executive director of University Housing, the importance of the policy is to provide comfortable and secure environments for the residents.
“With any kind of guests we want to be sensitive to the needs of the residents in that space," Dennis said. "We are trying to be sensitive to the other residents.”
Zach Strickland, an animal health major from Atlanta, is living in Russell Hall. He agrees that as a whole, the policy serves the purpose of providing a measure of safety to the halls.
“I guess [the visitation policy] is necessary so we don’t have random people walking through our dorms. I don’t think it’s over-enforced so it’s not a big deal,” Strickland said.
Janie Upchurch, freshman communication sciences and disorders major, lives in Brumby Hall and agrees the policy does have a purpose, but feels that it can be too overbearing.
“It’s for safety I understand, but sometimes the desk attendants are kind of strict," she said. "They are doing their job but at the same time they could be a little more [relaxed]."
While most students feel the policy serves its purpose overall, some students feel that aspects of it cause more inconveniences than they are worth.
Mallory Cain, a freshman health promotion major from Alpharetta, is living in Brumby Hall. She feels that the escorting aspect of the visitation policy is tedious and redundant after already having to claim guests.
“I think claiming is OK, because I understand that it is a security thing and stuff has happened,” Cain said, “but I think having to escort the guys is a huge hassle”
There are two visitation policy options: 24/7 visitation or visitation hours from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 24 hours on the weekends. The second policy applies to the freshman residence halls like Russell or Brumby.
The policy also includes claiming and escorting guests, and a same-sex over night policy. Residents are required to claim all guests and escort them at all times. Also, for overnight visits the guest is supposed to be the same sex as the host.
“Technically, it’s like [guests of the opposite sex] can stay [in one of the halls] over night, but not sleep over,” Cain said. “Yeah, I’d say that is super vague.”
Gerry Kowalski, the executive director of University Housing, said he feels the policy could not be clearer. He said there is a difference between visiting and staying somewhere, and the policy is intended to prevent cohabitation.
Dennis said that as far as the policy goes, some aspects are hard to enforce and the students are the key to its success.
“We are trying to be courteous of both roommates in the space. There may be situations taking place that we may not be aware of unless there is a roommate conflict,” Dennis said. “We are not doing bed checks, so we don’t know who is in the spaces at all times.”
The policy relies heavily on student involvement as well as that of the housing employees such as resident assistants on duty and supervisors.
Dennis said if a staff member sees a potential policy violation they are going to address it and follow protocol — but many students feel that the policy is more heavily enforced in Brumby Hall than any of the other freshman dorms.
“Brumby is the strictest from what I’ve heard because at Creswell and Russell they can’t be as strict because it is hard to know if a boy or a girl lives there, where as at Brumby it is a dead give away if you’re a boy,” Upchurch said.
The consequences for a violation of any aspect of the visitation policy depend upon the situation. A staff member documents the situation, and it is later decided whether or not it should go to judicial review through the University's student judiciary.
“There is a conduct review conference, and they discuss what took place, what is the situation and from there they work on a resolution,” Dennis said. “There is no standard sanction for a policy violation.”
There is a judicial database that tracks the number of violations a student has and there is always the potential that punishment may become more severe with repeated offences, according to Dennis.
There is also the potential that a situation with a resident could be elevated from a housing policy violation to a University policy violation, but Dennis said again the policy has no standard sanction defining consequences for actions.
Kowalski said he feels that the policy is not intended to tell people how to live, to prevent visitors or to have no visitors get arrested.
“It’s designed to make residents responsible for the behavior of their guests,” he said.
Though some students feel the policies are inconvenient, residents also understand their necessity.
“I understand the reasoning behind it,” Upchurch said. “I guess they are trying to make people comfortable, but at the same time it can inconvenience a lot of people as well.”
The policy can be found in the community guide for each grouping of residence halls, such as Rogers Road and University Village, East Campus Village, Family and Graduate Housing and traditional residence halls.