Fordham’s Guest Policy in Need of Reassessment


Fordham student signs in her friend at the security desk. (Jessica Hanley/ The Observer)
Fordham student signs in her friend at the security desk. (Jessica Hanley/ The Observer)

Both McMahon and McKeon Halls of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) are conveniently located in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper West Side—pharmacies, restaurants and slightly overpriced grocery stores are all within walking distance. With the Metropolitan Opera House and Central Park just steps away, residents are fortunate enough to live in such a culturally rich neighborhood. However, thanks to Fordham security, residents cannot as easily show off their New York City apartments as they can the surrounding area.

While policies enforced for safety, especially in a big metropolitan area, are justifiable, Fordham’s Catholic tradition is clearly the influence on the slightly absurd and outdated guest policy. An overnight guest entails paperwork 24 hours in advance and overnight guests of the opposite sex are forbidden. Presumably a deterrent for sex among residents with their partner of the opposite gender, the policy often leads to creative schemes in attempts to bypass it.

On Sept. 14 2014, in an official ceremony at the Vatican, Pope Francis wed couples who cohabited previous to marriage and bore children out of wedlock. Many see this as symbolic of the direction Pope Francis wants to take the Church—that is, towards modernization and acceptance of today’s social norms. Fordham and other Catholic institutions need to follow Pope Francis in his understanding and progressive ways in terms of his realistic attitude toward social issues.

When residents do not file for a guest pass 24 hours in advance it is either time to beg the Residential Assistant (RA) for an exception or to sneak the guest past the security guard. Unfortunately, hardy efforts to avoid the policy are not always successful. Yet, residents should not be obligated to deviously strategize how to have a guest over. Yes, paperwork is not that big of a burden and is understandable for precautionary reasons, but it is only acceptable if the 24-hour rule is eliminated in the name of spontaneity. However, to prohibit opposite gendered guests based on the assumption that residents’ motive is sex is prejudiced and ignorant. Moreover, residents are all adults and should be entitled to the freedom to have a friend, regardless of gender, stay over—whatever their motive is.

When Pope Francis married the couples that, according to the church, sinfully had sex outside of marriage, he presumably sought to have the Catholic Church become more forgiving regarding premarital issues. This ceremony proves one aspect of the Pope’s leniency with Catholic teachings compared to his predecessor, Pope Benedict. He is also more open on the subject of homosexuality, for example. In fact, according to “The New York Times,” he suggests that he does not judge the sexual orientation of priests and asks, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Catholic institutions need to adopt Pope Francis’s ways of continuing Catholic traditions, while also remaining relevant and in touch with today’s people.

Not only is this guest policy outdated, it is redundant, useless, and potentially dangerous. Both resident halls are co-ed and thus, in practice, residents can have sex whenever they want. It seems almost counterproductive to prevent a long-term couple practicing monogamous, safe sex from seeing each other, while residents have the option to engage in meaningless sex right under Fordham’s nose. Additionally, FCLC has a considerable gay population, making Resident Life’s attempt to regulate sex even more of a failure. Considering a RA cannot question residents’ sexual orientation when granting guest passes, it would be more logical to eliminate the permittance of overnight guests entirely. While this is the more equal option, it is certainly even more undesirable and would place Fordham in an unreasonable situation. Furthermore, forcing all guests without guest passes to leave by 3:30 A.M. with the threat of fines and disciplinary action has the potential to endanger both the guest and the resident—taking the subway to another borough or a bus to another state at such a late hour is generally not a good idea but a sacrifice many make to see the resident of his/her choice.

Residents respect Fordham’s living tradition of Catholicism and the Jesuit education. We are not heretics; we simply believe Fordham should take all of these factors into consideration and re-evaluate the guest policy. Reassessment is not only necessary for our relationships and sanity, but also in the name of the freedom that comes with college and the policy’s questionable basis and intentions