When the gender matters

My freshman year at USF was spent mostly in Fontana Hall. Since housing was limited on campus, students were placed in Fontana as campus residents. I remember many nights where I had a group study session with friends down the hall and would fall asleep in my friend’s room. My friend down the hall happened to be male. This wasn’t a problem last year, but this year, campus living has added a new policy for residents.

On Aug. 22, during the first meeting with resident assistants on campus, Holly residents were told that a new campus policy states that someone of the opposite sex is not permitted to stay the night in your residence hall. This of course also means if your boyfriend or girlfriend is planning on sleeping over, you better move off campus or get a hotel room.

My first thought was how this policy could possibly be monitored. I was told by a resident advisor for Holly that they can’t truly monitor residents to enforce this policy, but that roommates and other people in your building may report instances where the rule has been broken, and then action will be taken.

Another thought occurred to me a few days ago when reading articles for one of my classes on same-sex relationships. I realized that for the first time, a same-sex couple had rights that I did not have. A guest of the same sex is permitted to stay for up to 72 hours in the residence halls, while visitation for someone of the opposite sex is limited to hours that a mother or father would permit for a teenager.

I pay a lot of money, compared to many off-campus apartments, to live in Holly and have the convenience of being on campus and close to my classes, but when a friend of the opposite sex decides to visit me, I have to tell him to get a hotel room. My housing: $2365 per semester. Hotel room: about $70 per night. Having the freedom as an adult to act responsibly and be respectful of my roommates when allowing a guest into my place of residence: priceless.

A resident in Maple claims, “Since my money is paying for my own room, I don’t see the problem with my boyfriend staying over from time to time, especially when I have the consent of my roommate.”

There is the obvious problem — that this policy is completely ridiculous, considering we are adults and have paid for a place to live, yet are being restricted as though we still live at home with our parents — but there is another problem. Some students are still unaware of this policy. When speaking with a resident of Kosove, I discovered that their meeting only covered visitation hours and not the new policy. She says that she “hadn’t heard of such rule” and that “they never said you can’t have a guest of the opposite sex spend the night.”

I understand that the university needs rules and policies. I also understand that in many cases, having guests can interfere with peace between roommates; but who says that guests in general aren’t going to disrupt the peace? Is USF eventually going to take away all visitation hours?

With more “parental” rules placed on campus residents, an increasing number of students will be moving off campus. In addition, many residence halls on campus have single rooms and guests would not be as much of an inconvenience to roommates, yet we still have to abide by this policy. I love living on campus. I am more motivated to get involved, and it is convenient to get to my classes, but if I am going to be treated like a child who is still living at home with mom and dad, then it isn’t worth it.

I want to encourage all campus residents to attend meetings for Resident Hall Association in order to come to some sort of compromise on this issue.

Megan Moschell is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.