Thursday, March 14, 2013

Visitation policy validates gender-neutral housing

by Anna Sieber, Columnist

     In February,  ASPLU-RHA Congress passed legislation to enact various forms of gender-neutral housing, including bathrooms, wings and individual rooms.

   We all know the motive behind this is to make things more equal, to make the sexes — and varying orientations — feel more comfortable.

    I am going to be honest — I think this is a really cool idea.

    Personally, I am not sure how big of a concern gender-neutrality is for students who choose to live in the residence halls. Undoubtedly, there must be issues, but Pacific Lutheran University is an inclusive enough community that it seems like someone who was less friendly to a roommate of a different sexual orientation would get more flack than they could possibly handle.

    It will be interesting to see how the policy change is enacted, but the general point is to make everyone feel more comfortable — not less.

    It only takes one creep to ruin the whole gender-neutral bathrooms scenario.

    Residential Life and PLU are clearly trying to handle this change with tact, however, I truly do not care that much about gender-neutral housing.

    Yes, it is a cool idea, but I am not convinced the current housing structure is a big problem.

    As RHC member and sophomore Sean Larkin, said to me, the general thought is that the policy is helping to protect people and is representing those who may feel discriminated against. However, he also said he is not sure who really feels that ostracized — it seems unclear who PLU is defending here.

    The policy change opens up more possibilities for housing: maybe I could room with a boy.

    The change is progressive and is what we will undoubtedly see more of across universities in the years to come.

    The housing is not what I really care about. I care about the visitation policy.

    It is completely absurd if I am watching a movie with a male friend on the weekend and he is expected to leave my room at three in the morning because boys have to be out of girls’ rooms by that time on the weekends.

    Yes, it is so very scandalous to watch a movie.

    This scenario would be perfectly fine if I were watching a movie with a female friend.
    Now that is discriminatory.

    We could be up late. We could be cramming for an exam. In terms of overnights, the male spending the night in my room could be my brother or a close friend from home. My roommate could be totally fine with this.

    The visitation policy is archaic, hands down.

    I understand that it is meant to diminish roommate conflict — the discomfort of a roommate wanting to go to bed while the other is rolling around with a boyfriend or girlfriend. But that is assuming everyone is straight.
    It is assuming that residents are not mature enough to communicate and handle the situation on their own or with the mediation of an RA.

    In addition, the visitation policy is inherently difficult to implement. RAs cannot be expected to go around knocking on doors to check for members of the opposite sex after a certain hour. That would be ridiculous.

    It sounds like RHA has some sort of legislation in the works to amend the outdated, discriminatory policy. I would love to see how it comes into effect.

    Anna Sieber is a first-year student at Pacific Lutheran University. She likes to write — which is why you’re reading this.