Xenia Gonikberg is a freshman journalism major.
Over the course of the last three months, I have been looking into an issue that needs to be brought up as it affects many students at Stony Brook University (SBU): the guest policy. After asking some of my peers, I felt that the school isn’t doing enough to ensure students’ safety and comfort. Maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for students living on campus can have an impact on academics and social life, so it is important that all housing policies are followed.
The policy regarding housing as listed on the Campus Residences’ web page states, “It is essential that the Division provide facilities which are clean, safe, comfortable and affordable, and which are managed effectively and efficiently.” More specifically, the housing policy maintains that “guests must be escorted by their hosts at all times. Students must show a valid Stony Brook University ID when attempting to enter the main campus after 11:00 p.m.” In this year’s Terms of Occupancy agreement, “no individual may be a late night/overnight guest for more than three (3) nights in any seven (7) day period, and a maximum of six (6) nights in any thirty (30) day period.” However, after speaking to several students, it has become clear that the sentiments echoed in Campus Residences’ mission statement and the Terms of Occupancy have been ignored, especially with regards to students’ needs and safety.
Sophomore anthropology major, Hailey Abate, has experienced firsthand problems with housing on campus. “The guest policy enforcement needs to change because there is a lack of security on campus due to the fact that if you don’t enter through the front door of the building, you don’t need to sign in,” she said.
It is easy for people to abuse the guest policy unknowingly or intentionally, and it is even easier to get away with it since dorm rooms aren’t constantly being monitored. Abate was also initially reluctant to come forward because she was afraid that her complaints wouldn’t be heard by the housing department, since that has been an issue she has faced in the past. After coming forward with numerous bad experiences in the dorms regarding disagreements with roommates, Abate is frustrated with the way that the housing department and Resident Assistants (RAs) have handled things.
Freshman psychology major, Afia Haque, also agrees that there is a lack of security on campus. While working on her Leadership and Service 101 final project, which was to find a solution to a campus issue that impacts student life, Haque and her group uncovered problems with safety and security on campus. In both of these cases, the residence halls were the places where this problem was the most prevalent.
“There’s so many ways to get in so casually, and you want to feel safe because it’s where you’re sleeping and spending your time,” Haque said. After numerous attempts to mediate these conflicts on her own, she has come to the conclusion that in order for her to solve her problem, she has to go through multiple channels of authority — from the RAs to the Assistant Resident Hall Director to the Resident Hall Director of her dorm.
Students should not have to repeatedly go through contacting resident authorities when they have an issue in their dorms, especially when it involves conflicts between roommates and their guests.
When it comes to prohibited items like candles, there is no problem with enforcing them. But when it comes to enforcing other rules like the guest policy, it isn’t taken seriously until the situation escalates or is deemed an emergency. Waiting until an emergency might be too late. It is important for the university to act as quickly and efficiently as possible so that the security problem is resolved.
One important way to better address this housing conflict is to effectively enforce the guest policy in the same way that banned items are. This will ensure that everyone understands and obeys the rules. Therefore, the university can certify that the students know the rules when it comes to inviting guests. It is important for an institution like SBU to care about the wellbeing of their students, and to guarantee that the rules concerning the guest policy are being followed.