Visitation Rights 

Some U of M students think dorm visitation hours have overstayed their welcome.

For University of Memphis students, living on campus may not be much different from living at home.

A long-standing residence-hall policy dictates that guests of the opposite sex must leave the dorms by midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends. But the U of M's Student Government Association (SGA) is considering dorm life without set visiting hours.

"You have 22-year-olds who are pretty much adults, and then someone tells them that they have to have somebody out of their house by midnight," says Ken Taylor, SGA's speaker pro tem and sponsor of the resolution. "They don't like that."

Under the current visitation policy, guests of the opposite sex must present an ID at the dorm's front desk. When the guest is ready to leave, the resident must walk him or her back to the front desk to check out.

"There's a lot of misconceptions about us trying to control people's behaviors," says Danny Armitage, associate dean of students. "But we're just trying to create a place where students can come to sleep, study, and socialize while maintaining a sense of privacy, safety, and security."

As the only SGA member to vote against the visitation resolution, Seth Guess agrees.

"I don't think all-night co-ed parties are conducive to a healthy environment," says Guess, a sophomore who does not live on campus. "It hurts students who want to study."

However, some students don't feel that having a boyfriend or girlfriend stay overnight compromises dorm safety or constitutes a party.

SGA's resolution would establish a committee to research how dorm visitation is handled at other schools, including whether it affects pregnancy or retention rates.

"If we see that other schools had pregnancy rates rise 50 percent and the retention rates drop 70 percent, we're not going to support 24-hour visitation," says Taylor.

The group doesn't have the authority to change school policy. But if the SGA decides to support the policy change, it will present its findings to the U of M administration.

If the administration also supports the change, it will then submit a request to the Tennessee Board of Regents, the state body that governs public universities.

Though the SGA is investigating more relaxed rules, the school's Residence Life office has been researching making the rules stricter.

"A lot of universities, to improve security, have moved to same-sex visitation," says Armitage. "At Ole Miss, even if you want to bring someone of the same sex in, you have to check that person into your space."

But at a resident meeting last week, about 65 percent of attendees were against changing to a same-sex visitation policy.

"We encourage students to make these kinds of decisions because they're the people living there," says Armitage. "But you can't just go out and ask students if they want 24-hour visitation. Most would say yes. But then when you ask if they're okay with a roommate having guests 24 hours, well, that's the challenge we get into."

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