Making Nice with McMahon’s “New” Guest Policy

Despite Its Obvious Defects, the “Change” in the Guest Policy Can Be Used to Your Advantage


Published: September 22, 2010

“All Residents, please be advised of the following CHANGE to the McMahon Hall guest visitation policy.”

A student is foolishly convinced by one of the many signs in McMahon that this is actually a new guest policy. (Salma Elmehdawi/The Observer)

I would love to talk about how this “new” policy is unfair, but that would miss the point. It is not even new (it’s just our old guest policy being fully enforced), and it was a pain before, and it’s still a pain now. So let’s talk about the real problem: the Fordham Guest Pass Policy.

I’m a logical person, so I’m assuming there must be a reasonable argument about why this policy has been implemented.

“The point of the policy is to allow everyone to have guests, but respect the right of residents to know about guests arriving and to retain their right to privacy,” director of Residential Life, Jenifer Campbell, said.

However, I know that I haven’t been able to sign in quite a few guests for silly, bureaucratic reasons. My favorite response was from a rather cheeky lady at the ResLife desk when I tried to explain that I couldn’t get a guest pass in the designated 6-9 p.m. time slot because of work and that this was really a last minute thing so I couldn’t have gotten it before.

“Guests are a privilege, not a right.” Of course, how silly of me. That right apparently doesn’t come with the $13,000 I pay for housing or the fact that I’m legally an adult.

So what’s the real reason why we have a policy if it’s only for preventing a surprise guest?

“Fordham has always had some form of a guest pass policy… most Catholic institutions that I’ve worked for have in place a guest pass policy,” Campbell said.

Also, just a note, Boston College, Gonzaga University and Loyola Chicago University are a few Catholic universities without a guest pass policy. They seem to be doing just fine.

However, according to Fordham Residential Life, the dorms would cease to function without this draconian policy in place. Our community would devolve into anarchy for the following reasons:

Students would no longer be able to study or have privacy in their own dorm rooms. Perhaps they need to be introduced to something called a “bedroom door,” or the three lounges so thoughtfully placed in McMahon, or the Fordham library, or the public library down the street, or the Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and Borders all within a two-block radius.

People would forge, deface and generally abuse the guest passes. However, making it harder and more of a pain to get a guest pass will definitely stop people from trying to cheat the system. Kind of like how Prohibition worked so well at sobering up America.

Lastly, people might get angry at the desk workers when trying to get a guest pass. Once again, making it more difficult will definitely solve this problem, and now with this new policy, desk staff will be yelled at 24 hours in advance instead of the day of. Problem solved.

And those aren’t the only flaws within the system. I’m just getting warmed up.

Rose Hill students need to be signed in and have an overnight pass. I know at Rose Hill you need to be signed in even if you are just going between dorms. Why the segregation? Doesn’t Fordham boast a tight-knit community? Apparently this is only true if you live in the same dorm.

Apparently there is also a huge difference between boyfriends outside of the dorm and inside. I had to have connections that rivaled the Russian Mob in order to get a guest pass for my out-of-state boyfriend, yet I didn’t see my roommate last year for about two weeks because she had moved in with her boyfriend downstairs. If the idea of the guest pass was to prevent premarital sex, I just hope that the Jesuits realize that the dorms are co-ed.

On that note, New York City has a thriving LGBT community. The Fordham community at Lincoln Center is no different. So I’m allowed to get a guest pass for my lesbian lover, but not one for my boyfriend. What’s a bi-girl to do?

As for the requirement that the guest pass be signed 24 hours in advance, I’m honestly just confused. If I was going to cause some serious damage in the dorm I’d be sure to plan that out at least a week ahead of time. But if my girlfriend and I are coming back from a late movie, I’d like to sign her in as a last-minute thing.

Also the expectation that guests have to leave between 3:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. seems a little naïve. I know that I can have a little afternoon fun on my roommate’s bed just as easily at one in the afternoon as I can at four in the morning.

But people, let’s look on the upside. At least you know that Fordham always gives you a valid reason for kicking that one-night stand out of your bed.

Even though we might lose that very important excuse, I propose an overhaul.

I mean, even the United Student Government has written resolution 001-10 in favor of altering the guest pass policy.

When you can get that organization motivated to agree on a resolution you know something needs to change.

But, for sensitivities’ sake, I understand we should have some way of keeping track of who’s in the building.

Why not just have a simpler guest pass policy, modeled after the one implemented by Georgetown University? Guests can only stay for two nights unless you have a good excuse (such as travel, relatives, etc.) and you can only sign in two guests, because really, I don’t have enough room for more than that. Anyone who can’t make up their mind to get a guest pass by 3:00 has to leave by 6:30 in the morning, or be fined $15.

That’s all.

Now was that so hard, ResLife?