After a year of work, the Residence Hall Association and housing have implemented an equal visitation policy in spring 2019 for Bates House, Capstone, Columbia Hall, Maxcy, Patterson Hall, South Tower and Women’s Quad.
Residents of the affected halls were given the option to vote for a more open visitation policy, which was not made available in previous semesters.
These residence halls previously functioned with a “Plan B” visitation policy allowing guests of the opposite sex to stay signed in until 2 a.m., whereas guests of residents at halls such as the Honors Residence and McBryde do not require any signing in.
The enactment of an equal visitation policy has been a long time coming, beginning last year when a group of senators at Women’s Quad began to work with dissolving Plan B. Following their attempt, the RHA president's committee passed a resolution stating that it believed the policy needed to be changed.
Prior to this year, residence halls were given the opportunity to vote to move from Plan B to Plan C, which allowed for overnight guests on weekends. However, hall government and RHA members still considered this to be problematic.
“One of the biggest issues with the 'old' visitation policy is that it is not standardized among residence halls,” said Sarah Eissmann, RHA public relations director and second-year mass communications student in an email. “I also believe the visitation policy on Plan B is severely out of date. This visitation plan neglect to take into account the LGBTQ+ community. While plan C is not perfect, it is a good compromise between open visitation and no overnight guests of the opposite sex.”
Another major factor in changing the visitation policy was giving residents the representation they needed after polling student interest.
“Originally, the goal was to permanently change the visitation policy to a campus-wise 'Plan D', but what we achieved this semester was substantial progress toward this,” said Audrey Hill, Capstone president and first-year public health student in an email. “We sent out a survey to ask all current on campus residents if they would approve of this ... and I believe 98% of people did approve.”
When what came to be known as Plan D, or the equal visitation policy, was put in front of hall residents as an option, it received overwhelming affirmation. All halls affected by Plan B visitation will be using Plan D for the spring semester. However, all guests will still be signed in and out via computer.
“The new visitation policy will positively impact my second semester because I will have the freedom of who I want to visit me,” said Zach Francke, first-year finance major and Capstone resident in an email. “It’s already working because a few of my friends from home are coming to South Carolina for my birthday. I won’t have to worry about them trying to find a hotel or sleeping in their car, due to the new visitation policy.”
Although the policy is changing, hall government wants to assure any concerned parents and students that safety will not be compromised.
“It is very important that residents still sign their guests in at the service desk, and all roommate agreements supersede the visitation policy,” said Eissmann in an email. “Safety is a big concern, and we urge all residents to comply with signing in their guests and staying with their guests at all times.”
The Plan D visitation plan will be in place for the coming semester, though it is unclear whether it will be maintained in the fall. For now, the RHA and hall government are excited to present it to the community.
“The general consensus within the RHA is that this visitation policy will have a positive impact on the community because it is non-discriminatory,” said Eissmann in an email. “And it is closer to being on par with other respectable universities.”