Junior Room Visits Approved for One Hour on Friday Nights

On Tuesday night, February 12, 2013, the cluster deans met and approved a proposal made by the House Counselor Committee to add an extra hour to junior room visiting for a trial period. The trial allows room visits between two juniors of opposite gender on Friday nights in the winter term from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Scott Hoenig, House Counselor in Rockwell Dormitory for junior boys, came up with the idea. The pilot will be applied to any ninth grade dorm with house counselors who are willing to have their dorm participate. Although all ninth grade dorms will be invited to take part in this experiment, it is not required. The experimental policy will go into effect Friday night, February 15th, 2012. The pilot program will continue through the end of the winter term for a total of four Friday evenings. Six of nine freshman dorms will participate. Rockwell House, Isham, Nathan Hale House, America House, Double Brick House and Pemberton Cottage are the dorms that have chosen to participate, while French House, Hearsey House and Draper Cottage have decided not to. The current junior visiting policy allows juniors to visit members of their own class from five to eight o’clock p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Under the current system, juniors cannot visit on Fridays or Saturdays. During the spring term, juniors can visit from three to eight o’clock p.m. on Sundays, according to the Blue Book. Juniors must keep the door 90 degrees open. Like all room visits, juniors must sign in and sign out with a house counselor who will remain in the dorm for the duration of the visit. The junior visiting policy has generated much discussion recently. In late 2010, faculty discussed the existence of junior room visiting and voted on whether juniors should be allowed to have parietals. Some faculty members said the practice of room visiting for ninth graders should be retained because it prompted good conversations on sexuality, sexual activity, and relationships, according to Hoenig. In April of 2011, faculty voted to allow juniors to have room visits only with other juniors in junior dormitories. According to an article published in The Phillipian, the strictly junior-to-junior parietal policy passed with a majority vote of 108 faculty members. The House Counselor Committee has heavily discussed the issue of junior room visiting since fall term. This week, Hoenig wrote and presented a proposal to the cluster deans through Paul Murphy, Dean of Students. Hoenig received support for the extra hour on a trial period. Ninth grade house counselors were sent an email about the proposed change on Tuesday night, said Hoenig. House counselors were then able to choose to participate or not. The trial was made official late Thursday night after house counselors from all junior dorms had given Hoenig a response to the program. According to Hoenig, the rationale behind the proposed change is to offer juniors a more convenient time to have room visits. The current hours are not ideal for room visiting, as house counselors are often not available during these hours. In addition, students are busy focusing on homework and extracurricular activities during the current room visiting times. On Friday evenings from 8:30-9:30, a house counselor is already on duty and would be available to sign juniors in and out and properly regulate room visits. Friday nights are also a time when students do not have clubs or practices to attend. Hoenig said that the trial period will allow the Administration to test the effectiveness of this system.