Stricter residence hall policies not enforced equally across campus Sunday

By Marie MacCune

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Despite promises of a stricter guest policy across campus for Super Bowl Sunday, changes were fully enforced in just the Southwest Residential Area, according to student reports.

In an email sent out last week to the University of Massachusetts community, UMass Student Affairs announced that “Beginning Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015 at noon through Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at noon, no guests are allowed in any UMass Amherst Residence Halls. UMass Amherst resident students are allowed access only to the hall in which they live.”

UMass Student Affairs justified this change, stating, “This temporary change to the guest policy is in accordance with Residential Life (Housing) policy, as it relates to special circumstances involving concern for safety and security. In support of this temporary policy change, residence hall security desk hours will be expanded in many residence halls over the course of the weekend.”

By 6 p.m., security guards were present only in Southwest residence halls. Students in all other residential areas reported no security presence and residents were able to access halls in which they did not live and bring in guests who did not attend the University.

At 8 p.m. normal security presence was reported at residential areas throughout campus. Some students were told by their residential assistants that noise complaints would result in a room check for guests.

Colleen Ford, a sophomore living in John Adams Tower, confirmed the enforcement of the policy changes in Southwest.

“There is security and there are two security guards outside (the sign-in door),” she said. “None of us are allowed to have any guests and everyone had to be signed out by noon if they were in here.”

Students from other residential areas had mixed feeling about the selective enforcement.

“I think UMass is in a tough spot here. Southwest is notorious for riots and partying so it makes sense to put all their resources in that area of campus,” Gretchen Mueller, a sophomore living in Butterfield Hall in the Central Residential Area, said. “I think that Southwest students might even be more mad when they find out that the policy is only being enforced there. Even though I don’t like the policy, they should have tried to enforce it everywhere.”

Said Orchard Hill Residential Area resident Ariel Dickerman: “I think a lot of people on campus are really upset about this Residential Life policy of not allowing guests in. It was all over Facebook, Yik Yak, Twitter – people were comparing Amherst to North Korea. People seem to especially be surprised that the administration is treating Southwest differently than all the other residential areas.

“I can’t see why Southwest should be treated like all the other places. It would be unfair to do so. When you think about it, every major riot has occurred in Southwest, and none that I know of have occurred elsewhere. To create a strict residential policy that applies to every residential area equally is to unfairly penalize the students who, historically speaking, the University has no reason to punish.”

Ed Blaguszewski, executive director of News and Media Relations, deferred all questions to Residential Life. He did say, however, that while he “can’t speak to what’s happening on the ground. I presume everything is being enforced appropriately.”

Representatives from Residential Life were not permitted to comment.

Marie MacCune can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MarieMacCune.