The right to have overnight visitors of the opposite sex is but a dream to students in the dormitories at the University of Mississippi.
A new policy allowing “sleepovers” on weekends was scheduled to take effect last weekend but was scrapped by university officials amid complaints from parents, state lawmakers and religious leaders.
“They caught somebody sleeping on that one. That’s bad, bad, bad policy,” said state Sen. Hillman Frazier. “We’re still the Bible Belt. Some things are a no-no in our state, especially when it deals with state tax dollars.”
No college in Mississippi allows men and women to share dorm rooms overnight. Public colleges in neighboring Alabama and Louisiana have similar bans, though it is common for universities across the country to allow overnight visitors of the opposite sex, especially on weekends.
Ole Miss dorm residents voted overwhelmingly Sept. 2 to allow 1,200 upperclassmen to have guests of the opposite sex in their rooms from noon Friday to midnight Sunday. The idea came from a student survey last fall.
In vetoing the change, College Board members said that it violates a state policy against coed dorms and that proper channels had not been followed.
Ole Miss allows guests in dorms from noon until 10 p.m. weekdays and noon until 1 a.m. on weekends. Students must check their guests in and out with desk clerks.
Residence hall directors can give warnings, impose a $25 fine or revoke visiting privileges to violators. Housing Director Jim Anderson said the number of citations varies by dorm.
Ole Miss student President Calvin Thigpen of Jackson said that if the change had gone through, students “wouldn’t always have to look at the watch as to when to get downstairs” before the curfew.
“What couldn’t happen in 12 or 13 hours that could in 24 hours?” he said.
Many lawmakers opposed the plan.
“I’d have fought it at Southern (Miss) tooth and toenail because I don’t think in Mississippi there’s a place for it,” said Rep. Gene Saucier, a former 23-year administrator at the University of Southern Mississippi. “You’re inviting trouble.”