Walking down the hallway on the second floor of Fromm Residence Hall, it’s hard to miss the bold sign on the wall, which reads, “Fromm girls and ‘the boys’… NO SLEEPING OVER!” Something about this sign just confuses me. I am 18 years old; I can vote, I can join the military and I can rent a hotel room, but I can’t have a boy spend the night in my dorm room? It seems a little ridiculous.
Some of my friends wonder why I care, asking, “Laura, you’re gay. Why does this even matter to you?” Well, I do care for a few reasons. The most prevalent reason is that this policy exemplifies the heterosexist attitude that dominates the USF campus. The Fogcutter Student Handbook specifically states that no guest of the opposite sex is allowed to spend the night; however same sex guests are permitted up to four times a month. The reason for the policy is not entirely clear, although the handbook cites the desire to create a positive environment for academic achievement as justification for all residence life regulations. Arguably, allowing same sex guests works in my favor, but the inequality between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples is wrong.
I can have my significant other spend the night, but my roommate cannot, simply because she is straight. It seems that the policy makers didn’t take gay relationships into account when making this rule. Even though altering the rule to be more universal might inhibit my ability to have a romantic rendezvous, I still think that reform should be considered.
The second problem with this rule relates to the definition of an “overnight guest.” The policy considers anyone checked into the dorm for more than 6 hours between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. to be an overnight guest. As this is a Jesuit institution, I can understand why the administration would try to prevent sexual relations within the dorms, but allowing 6-hour blocks of time for opposite sex guests to visit pretty much ensures that any and all “frowned-upon activities” can and will happen. Why not just allow them to spend the night? The deed will be done regardless, and allowing sleepovers would keep guests from having to stumble home at four in the morning.
In most residence halls, the 6-hour policy is pretty easily circumvented. A female who wants a male to spend the night can simply have another male from her hall check her guest in and vice versa; this is where Fromm girls, however, get the short end of the stick. Since Fromm is an all-female hall, residents have no way of avoiding the opposite-sex guest policy.
This leads to one final problem: out-of-state guests. I am from Phoenix, Arizona, and I have several friends from back home who have never been to San Francisco and would love the opportunity to come visit the city. Most recently, a very close male friend of mine expressed interest in flying to visit over this past weekend to attend Power to the Peaceful. My roommate had no problem with him staying the night, but the guest policy wouldn’t allow him to. As a Fromm resident, I had no way of evading the rule and I had to tell him he could not come.
The overnight guest policy is unjust. Not only does it enforce heterosexist ideals, but it also is entirely ineffective. Should change occur, a more universal guest policy that focuses on agreement contracts between roommates would be an acceptable solution and welcomed by the student body.
Laura Waldron is a freshman politics major.