August 24, 1995 in Nation/World

In Your Dreams, WSU Tells Students Administration Refuses To Allow Overnight Guests In Dorms

Eric Sorensen Staff writer
 

For more than two decades, Washington State University has had the distinction of being the only public college in the state that does not allow overnight guests in residence halls.

No boyfriends, no girlfriends, not even mom on Mom’s Weekend.

Last year, the student body president called the policy “the most puritanical, strictest rule of any school in the state.” But despite student appeals and the recommendations of a university task force, school officials say it’s going to be that way for a while longer.

Gus Kravas, vice provost for student affairs, said he has decided against changing the policy because there is “no clear consensus” on the issue.

“I’m not looking for unanimity anywhere,” he said, “but there was enough difference of opinion in this regard” to leave the policy unchanged.

Student leaders say the difference of opinion actually lies between students and school officials, including the board of regents, who must approve a policy change.

“I know the consensus is very clear,” said Jennifer Atkinson, president of the Residence Hall Association. “Students are for it and the administration is not. And they didn’t bother to bring it to a vote of the board of regents.”

Regent R.M. “Mac” Crow acknowledged that the issue has divided students and school officials but said he wants to keep the current policy, even if it means voting against students for the first time in his 10 years on the board.

“This is a moral issue,” he said. “It isn’t student rights. It’s what you personally believe in.”

The regents have yet to discuss the issue formally, but Atkinson said she plans to make a case for a change when the board meets here in October.

“There should be some dialogue there,” she said. “That’s why I’m really frustrated.”

Dorm living is a big part of attending the largely residential campus. Some 4,500 students live in the dorms - required housing for freshmen - paying $2,161 for a two-person room and a meal plan.

Since the early ‘70s, friends and relatives of the residents have not been allowed in the halls between 2 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., said Kravas. Residence hall director handbooks are even more strict, saying guests must be escorted out of buildings at 10 p.m.

While the rule is widely overlooked, students last year lobbied heavily for officially changing it. The Residence Hall Association unanimously endorsed a change and the student Senate backed it up.

Kravas appointed a university task force, which this spring proposed letting registered visitors stay in the halls for up to three nights, with roommates’ permission. Residents who want a more restricted policy would be assigned like-minded roommates.

Marie Glynn, a foreign languages professor and the head of the task force, wrote Kravas last spring to say “even the cautious student members of this committee agree that the current policy must be changed.”

Glynn and some students say the issue has been misperceived as an attempt to let students sleep together.

Indeed, when word spread last year about the proposed change, the student affairs office fielded electronic mail calling the status quo a “moral standard.”

“As we have seen in this fall’s national elections, people want to swing back to higher moral values,” wrote one parent. “I believe you will find many parents backing you as you take a strong stand.”

But students in favor of the change say it is more a matter of giving them the responsibility they are due.

“Obviously I think it (the current rule) is stupid,” said Erik Snider, taking to dorm life after a stint in the Army. “I’m 24 years old and I should be able to have overnight guests, whether it’s my brother or family or friends from out of town.”

“This is still something students want,” said John Robinson, a former Residence Hall Association president who spearheaded the proposed change. “…I think there is a vast majority out there that want a change.”

, DataTimes


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