Students react to new visitation rules

New visitation rules allow on-campus students to have a guest in their dormitory rooms as told by SPU students

Kit Nowicki, Staff Writer

A recent update to Seattle Pacific University’s COVID-19 guidelines permitted students to host one guest from their respective floor starting on October 23. According to Chuck Strawn, the Dean of Students for Community Life, SPU changed their guidelines based on the feedback they received from the county on their prevention of viral transmission. He said they take any new guidance or insight they receive into consideration to make adjustments accordingly.

“We’re trying to balance a lot of different things, just like everybody is, we’re trying to balance what is, obviously, best for our students and for our community, what is required in the law, and what is it that the super-smart medical people are saying as well,” said Strawn.

Strawn also said in regard to on-campus students at SPU, that he’s not worried so much about enforcement as he is about compliance. Strawn is hopeful that students will look at the new guidelines as an opportunity to move forward to the next step in returning to normalcy.

“It’s also challenging too because we are at almost the end of October, and a lot of RA’s and a lot of our students have done a really great job meeting with each other,” said Strawn. “It’s been kind of nice to be able to be in some of these cluster groups. That has allowed us to kind of know who’s in our building or who’s our ‘people.’”

He said the only issue with this, is that said “cluster groups” can only be easily identified by the Resident Advisor on that particular floor. So, if another RA is doing rounds, they won’t know exactly who is from what floor.

This concern was also expressed by an anonymous RA that said, “I personally am experiencing this transition with a lot of frustration and feelings of neglect. Just as the eating pods provided community they also provided opportunity to flaunt the rules and put our community in danger. There is no check on if who you’re eating with is the proper person. In the same way, this new leniency in the guidelines is just one more way that RAs become COVID-19 cops instead of doing the job we all were excited to do: make community.”

They said that RAs don’t want to document more COVID-19 violations, receiving a warning less than 24 hours before the rule went into effect felt a little disrespectful. 

“It sends a clear message: you’re not doing a good enough job creating community, so we are willing to put every student at risk to make sure parents don’t pull their students, and with them, their tuition. Of course, RAs want to make a community, that’s why we’re here risking our lives for no added pay or benefits,” an anonymous RA said.

They said that the new visitation rule will force RAs to make a choice between being a “cool” or “chill” RA and just respecting their own personal boundaries.

On the other hand, first-year Rebecca Benedict said that students will be more willing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions when given more freedom.

“I think it’s a good idea because people have been so lonely not being able to hang out that they end up socializing in larger groups and breaking the rules, and it’s hard to blame them. I think having a little extra freedom while still being safe could be more effective and definitely more fun,” said Benedict.

First-year Trinity Reeves said that she’s excited to meet more of her neighbors because the COVID-19 regulations have made it difficult to make new friends and meet new people.

“I really think the new visitation rules will help students build community and help with their mental health. I know it will definitely help me be able to develop my friendships and feel more comfortable at SPU,” first-year Trinity Reeves said.

first-year Zoe Shuckhart said this rule will be a safe step forward as long as the guidelines are abided by.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction in terms of allowing students to connect on campus, especially for those living without roommates. At the same time, it does not compromise the safety of the students because of the fact that we are mandated to wear masks, keep our door open, and stay six feet apart, which makes me feel great about it,” said Shuckhart.

The new visitation rule permits dormitory residents to have one guest from their same residence hall floor in their room on the condition that the door is kept open and both parties wear masks and maintain social distance. For more information on the new visitation guidelines see Guests now allowed in SPU dormitories