University Housing and Residential Life amended the guest policy for all university residence halls beginning this semester, creating new restrictions for the number and age of guests that residents can sign in.
The new policy allows residents to sign in three guests at a time between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight, and only one guest from midnight to 8 a.m. Additionally, guests under the age of 18 who are not enrolled at the university are no longer permitted to stay between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. All minors must register with a security officer during the times that they are allowed to be signed in, according to an email sent out to students on Aug. 25.
Residential Life amended the guest policy during the summer after meeting with the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Risk Management and the Office of the Fire Marshal, Michael Scales, associate vice president for student affairs, said in an email.
University Fire Marshal John Higgins said changes in the number of overnight guests allowed came after he was contacted by the Philadelphia Fire Department regarding a complaint from a parent of a student living in residence halls.
Limiting the number of overnight guests to one ensures that fewer people will have to be awakened to respond to a fire or alarm, Higgins said.
“During the day it is assumed occupants are awake and ready to respond to a fire alarm,” Higgins said. “That overnight period is a critical time.”
The decision to keep minors from staying overnight was made as a result of a university review of the Freeh report, an independent report published by the law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP into the actions of Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal.
“The Freeh report raised many issues that all universities should be examining when it comes to the safety of minors on campus. We need to take the time need to examine this issue carefully. Our new guest policy allows us the time to do a thoughtful study of the issue, while ensuring the safety of minors on campus,” Scales said.
Students returning to residence halls this semester were told of the change at floor meetings and from notices placed in the hallways.
“I actually do not think it is fair at all,” Aubrey Kehs, a sophomore living in Temple Towers, said. “I think that you should be able to have the three, I don’t think they even told us the right reasons why they changed it.”
“I think that it is fair, but I [do] think that it is annoying that you can only have one guest overnight,” said Nicole Rubin, a sophomore speech, language and hearing major who also lives in Temple Towers.
Neither student said they had experienced first-hand problems so far with the new rules, but expected them in the coming year.
Scales said the transition to the new policy has gone “smoothly.”
“While we have had some questions about the changes in the policy, once we explain the reasons for it, residents appreciate why the changes were necessary,” Scales said.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.