Modified visitation opens upon campus

 Courtesy Photos/The Bison

 Zoe Charles

News Editor 

 On Oct. 9 visitation reopened at OBU. Visitation among dorms had previously been suspended due to COVID concerns.

While visitation is modified, in an email sent out to students Residential Life reported, “[. . .] so excited to welcome your friends from around campus into our home! Please be respectful and follow our community guidelines to ensure the safest visitation experience.”

According to an email sent out to students on Oct.9 the following rules have been put in place to help guide visitation protocols and expectations:

1. Your visitors must be OBU students.

2. Your guests can visit between 12 pm and 11pm on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

3. You must check in to the lobby at the RA desk.

4. Your visitors must remain in the lobby that you checked in to! The RAs at the front desk will ask for your ID as a placeholder in the lobby you check into! They will also take note of the time you checked into the lobby.

5. You will have two hours to hang out in the lobby, if there is a wait for the lobby you are using. If there is not a wait, you can hang out for longer!

6. You will need to come to the front desk to let your visitors inside the building. You will need to stay with your guests while they are in the building. There is a restroom that your male guests can use located beside the RA desk.

7. Physical distancing and masks will be enforced during this time. Please be respectful if an RA asks you to comply with these measures.

8. Your guests are not allowed in your room.

9. The lights must remain on in the lobby and all feet must stay on the ground.

10. If you are hosting a small event, you may reserve the Lobby for a total time of 2 hours. Come to the RA desk to do so.

11. Failure to comply with these rules (masks, physical distancing, room capacity, visitation guidelines) will result in an RV and potential loss of visitation privileges.

According to an email sent to students by Erin Guleserian, Director of the Residential Experience, the following lobbies are opening for visitation: WMU – four lobbies, The Lodge – one main lobby, two side lobbies, and two study rooms, Agee – two main lobbies, Kerr – main Lobby, WUA – center building and Taylor – two lobbies and three study rooms.

If students do not respect these rules disciplinary action will follow. Such includes “for minor visitation violations [students] will receive a $10 RV. For a repeat violation, [students] will receive a $50 RV. After [a] third violation, the fine will continue to double, and [the student] will have to meet with the Dean of Students and will be put on academic probation.”

When asked why Residential Life decided to open up the modified visitation Kaleb Miears, Resident Director of The Lodge and The Village Apartments said, “Res Life has attempted to be thoughtful and mindful of student’s well-being both physically and socially. While we want students’ physical health to be maintained, we wanted to allow the student body more space to have safe social interactions. Allow visitation in the lobbies of the dorms because we can help to maintain safe physical distance, while allowing students some normality to their living situation.”

Miears also said in response to the question of how COVID had changed practices within Residential Life that, “COVID has really impacted a lot of what we do in Res Life. Our RAs/CLs are working more than they ever have been doing health screenings, sanitizing the lobbies, and ensuring that our dorms are safe for students’ health. We have also had to be creative in how we plan events, engage our students, and how the entire residential life role looks. However, our staff have been incredible and our priority in all of this is to make sure our students have the best living situation possible.”

When asked about the modified re-opening of visitation senior nursing major Natalie Gorzovalitis said, “I am glad we finally have some form of visitation, especially with the temperatures dropping, we are not able to meet outside as comfortably. Having a communal space besides the GC actually allows for better opportunity for interaction. It does seem strict but that should be accounted for before someone attempts to go, they have been fully informed and should not complain if they break the rules and get an RV.”

Junior chemistry major Caileigh Lavigne said, “I’m glad that visitation has reopened. When visitation was not allowed, I was kind of frustrated that we could not go hang out with our friends or do anything in dorms. We were allowed to hang out with them without our masks while we were eating, so why could we not hang out with them with masks on in a dorm? With visitation open again, I feel a lot less awkward; I don’t have to be surrounded by hundreds of others in the GC or be awkwardly separated in the library trying to work together without being too loud.”

When asked about whether or not she felt safe with the reopening of visitation sophomore family and community service major Grace Fairlie said, “ I feel somewhat safe. People haven’t really been perfectly following the rules and regulations so that is what makes me feel unsafe. However, when the RA’s actually enforce everything it is better and safer.”

Lavinge said, “I do feel safe in the dorms with the new policies. They are still requiring masks and social distancing, so I don’t feel unsafe. I think that RDs and RAs are doing a great job at making sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.”

“I do feel safe with the new COVID policies and procedures but sometimes I think the screening process needs more accountability, along with the quarantine and isolation and contact tracing,” Gorzovalitas said. “I can spot ways there can be loopholes to the contact tracing because not all students are trained in contact tracing like some others. I have also heard students saying people are not staying in when they are supposed to be quarantined, such as going to the grocery store.”

Sophomore nursing major Audrey Branham said, “I do feel safe under the new COVID procedures because I can personally practice more social distancing and precautions when I feel like I need to based on my particular situation.”

When asked about hopes for visitation in the future Branham said, “I obviously hope that we could have visitors in our rooms, especially for people such as siblings or for people that always hang around each other. But I understand that with the danger of COVID, it is probably safest and most likely that lobby visitation will be the limit until COVID is no longer an issue.”

For questions pertaining to visitation rules and regulations students should contact their Resident Directors.

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