Faculty Finalizes Junior Room Visitation Policy

After faculty finalized votes on the parietal policy for Juniors this past week, Juniors will no longer be able to have room visits with students from other classes. The policy, which had been under review since fall term, received its adjustment after a majority vote of 108 faculty members. The new policy will go into effect in September 2011, according to Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life. This revision will prevent Juniors from having a parietal, visiting the rooms belonging to a student of another gender, with Lowers, Uppers or Seniors. Upperclassmen will no longer be able to have parietals in Junior dorms. Junior parietals have been at the center of faculty discussion for some time, said Murphy and the administration has been trying to determine the right move. The current Blue Book policy outlines rules for room visitations between older and younger students. Catherine Carter, House Counselor in Isham, led the review of the policy with the House Counselor Committee. The proposal stemmed from an administration discussion that began last fall, when the Community Health Team proposed to eliminate Junior parietals altogether. The committee includes Murphy, Katryn Birecki, Instructor and Trainer Carter, Brian Faulk, Instructor in Chemistry and House Counselor in Barlett Hall, Shawn Fulford, Instructor in Math and House Counselor in Eaton Cottage, Scott Hoenig, Instructor in Math and House Counselor in Rockwell House, Matt Lisa, Instructor in Math and House Counselor in Stuart, Keith Robinson, Instructor in Biology and House Counselor in Bishop Hall and Jill Thompson, House Counselor in Double Brick. The House Counselor Committee had the faculty vote on the proposal after an initial faculty poll indicated strong support for the new policy. Hoenig said, “[The change] is a good compromise between eliminating junior room visiting and just keeping the current system. Especially since we split our dorms up [to Juniors and non-Juniors], so it makes sense that our room visiting policy is consistent with that.” Murphy said, “Ultimately, [the committee] wanted to decide what is the message the school wants to send to students about how dorms are used correctly.” According to Murphy, the new rules will encourage students to use parietals as they were originally intended: as visits for private conversations or group studying. He added that the administration will continue to be mindful of students’ needs for privacy by providing appropriate supervision in the dormitories. Hoenig said that he hopes this change will give ways to additional changes, such as changing the visitation hours, currently five p.m. to eight p.m. on Monday through Thursday, to a time that is more convenient for students and house counselors. Murphy added that one of the main goals of the new policy is to clarify current Blue Book rules. The Blue Book policy on room visits currently states that Juniors are only allowed parietals at beginning of winter term, after several meetings about the responsibilities and guidelines of room visiting. Carter said that these meetings, which are usually held in January, focus on relationships and dating. Parietal privileges begin for all Juniors in February. During room visits for Juniors, a house counselor must be present in the building, the dorm room door should be open 90 degrees. Parietals may only be granted at designated times during the week. Upperclassmen gain privileges, such as parietals any day of the week for the entire year, after a general meeting about room visits in the Fall. They also have the option of leaving the door closed or ajar. The Gazette, a weekly faculty newsletter, detailed the policy change immediately following the faculty vote.