Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Blarney’ guest policy is too harsh and was announced too late

(Conor Snell/Daily Collegian)
(Conor Snell/Daily Collegian)

My boyfriend and I met in high school, and this weekend will mark our three-year anniversary. He goes to school in Florida, and bought plane and bus tickets at the beginning of January to come visit me. It was perfect timing because his spring break starts Friday.

Then, about two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the University of Massachusetts forbidding guests this upcoming weekend who aren’t UMass students.

I expected a change in the guest policy similar to ones from previous events, where we could only have two non-UMass guests, but a policy this strict shocked me.

I talked to my residence director last Tuesday and explained my situation. I told her he would be arriving Friday afternoon, March 6, and asked if there was any way that an exception could be made given my situation and the short notice that was provided. She put in a request to make an exception to the modified guest policy.

However, three days later, I received an email that said that despite my argument, no exceptions to the guest policy were going to be made.

Even better, the University’s alternate solution for me was to have my boyfriend get a hotel room in the university hotel, which costs about $150 a night, making it seem as though the result of the decision was primarily to make more money.

Unless the University would like to reimburse my boyfriend for the expenses of the trip, such a response is unacceptable, considering how long it waited to announce the new guest policy.

The University should not punish someone who has clearly advocated for herself, and shown based on the sincerity and legitimacy of her request – not to mention a strong academic record – no desire to participate in the festivities this weekend. There must be a way that an exception could have been made based on the circumstances.

I have talked to a number of people about my dilemma and many of them have agreed that my feelings are warranted. When I told people about the argument I made, they were surprised that no exception was made.

Others have spoken of facing similar dilemmas, proving that this weekend is not all about “Blarney Blowout” – many students had prior plans. I highly doubt that the decision of such a large guest policy change two weeks before the “biggest party of the school year” was such a last minute decision. Students have a voice at this school, and the University shouldn’t impose new policies on us without adequate warning.

Let me make this clear, I’m all for following the rules and don’t often make requests to be an exception to the rules. However, my boyfriend spent close to $500 on tickets to get here, all of which is non-refundable at this point. He made the travel plans because this is the only time of the entire year that he can visit and I had said he would be able to stay here at UMass in my dorm. I am a freshman, so my only knowledge of “Blarney Blowout” is all hearsay, and it was almost impossible for me to know that this change in the guest policy was coming.

I understand the necessity for tighter restrictions, but what was wrong with a less strict modification to the guest policy, such as only being able to have two non-UMass guests? And why should everyone, including some like myself who hadn’t even been accepted to UMass at this time last year, suffer for the actions of a small group of people?

These restrictions will not prevent UMass students from indulging in “Blarney.” So why implement such a harsh policy that will affect those who have no desire to participate in Saturday’s revelry?

Charlotte Hoff is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • C

    Comrade MikeMar 7, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Announcing an important new rules change just two weeks ahead of time without any input from the students? UMass administration should really invite Chinese party officials over here, I bet they would have a lot to discuss about command and control issues in the People’s Republic of Amherst (PRA).

  • R

    Richard BuckmanMar 5, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    It would be simple to implement an exception policy, considering that UMass already has a network of trained resident directors and assistant resident directors, who are already using their resources to reply to students who are asking for requests. It would be as simple as one email outlining a policy.

  • A

    AnonymousMar 5, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I am in a similar situation. We had an official recruit scheduled for one of Umass’ sports teams, I won’t say which one. Now that this guest policy in order we had to ask him to change his plans and it is now seriously jeopardizing our chance to land this recruit which is inherently hurting our NCAA sports programs and University as a whole.

  • -

    -Mar 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I think it’s strange that you were actually expecting RHA to be sympathetic to your cause. This isn’t the first time the guest policy has been changed this year (for example, Homecoming Weekend) and this weekend is an even bigger issue for the university. I think the alternate solution provided is really the best option for anyone who planned to have guests this weekend.

  • N

    No sympathyMar 4, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    for you to think the policy for this would be less strict than the super bowl is insane. I have no sympathy

  • J

    JohnMar 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    It truly saddens me to see situations like this, and I hope very few others are put in such a situation.

    The reason for a total ban on off-campus guests is that, last year, there were 7,000 such guests on campus on the day of “Blarney”. The campus population is only ~14,000, so there were 50% more people at UMass that day, many of whom came up specifically to partake in the day’s festivities in one way or another. Non-UMass guests made up around half of the crowds roving around North Amherst, and the majority of arrests.

    I understand your desire for an exception, but implementation would be impractical- there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of exception requests, it would be near-impossible to tell who wouldn’t be partying, and students would find it incredibly unfair that some were allowed guests while others were denied.

    Altogether, though, it still really sucks, and I hope you find a way to spend time with your boyfriend.