FAMU Changes Inter-Room Visitation Policy
By LaDarius Calhoun
For the first time, Florida A&M University will allow inter-room visitation for students starting this upcoming fall semester.
Many argue the new visitation policy is long overdue and said the university is now operating in the 21st century. The university’s housing department said the new visitation policy was approved after a lengthy process.
“We used surveys at the beginning, middle and end of the school term to gather perspectives of the new policy,” said Stephanie Tillman, a second-year Resident Director who oversees Truth Hall.
After dealing with the circumstances it took to make the decision, Tillman believes it is perfect timing. She said some of those circumstances were the parents.
“Parents have the hugest voice when it comes to our students,” Tillman said. “They didn’t want the policy implemented. They wanted to keep it separate.”
Returning students are excited about the new policy. Rodney Lowe, a third-year student said, “It’s about time,” when he found out about the new inter-room visitation policy.
This past 2014-2015 school term, three of the housing facilities were chosen to host a trial of the policy. Those facilities were Truth Hall, an all-female facility; Sampson Hall, an all-male facility; and Palmetto South, the on-campus apartment facility.
Sean Sanders, a second-year Resident Assistant in Sampson Hall, was one of the first to experience the policy as a trial. He said he believes the school is behind in implementing the inter-room visitation policy.
“They are trying to get more students to stay on campus with the new policy in place,” Sanders said. “If the policy had been implemented earlier on, more students would have come back to live on campus. But I do believe that this policy will bring students back to enjoy on-campus living.”
The University Housing Department set very detailed guidelines within the trial policy.
“Students could only visit those select housing facilities during specific hours and days of the week. Inter-room visitation lasted Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 12 a.m. If students chose not to abide by the policy guidelines, they would receive a fine in the amount of $250,” Sanders said.
At the beginning of the trial, parents were given a survey on their views of the policy. Tillman said parents were first opposed to the new visitation policy, but toward the end of the trial they had new perspectives.
“A lot of parents said they realized the benefits of visitation for their student’s educational needs, such as studying in groups and working in teams,” Tillman said.
Like most other Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCU], FAMU tends to be a bit traditional in policies. Today more HBCUs are becoming modern to appeal to the new generation.
Aarian Forman, a second-year Resident Assistant at Tennessee State University [also a HBCU] works in an all-male facility on his campus and he shared his experience with inter-room visitation.
Forman believes FAMU is behind in implementing the visitation policy, but he also believes there are more HBCUs who should jump on the bandwagon.
“Not just FAMU, but a lot of HBCUs are lagging because their university policies are outdated,” Forman said.
Tennessee State University’s inter-room visitation policy is a little different than FAMU’s. While FAMU will allow visitation every day of the week in the fall, TSU will only offer it Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. for their freshmen residents, and every day for the upperclassmen.
TSU has had this visitation policy in place for more than five years. FAMU will now be joining the few HBCUs that implement inter-room visitation. Many believe HBCUs must continue to make change.
“They refuse to change things, but expect different results,” Forman said.