Ohio University Housing and Residence Life announced it would be continuing its policy to refuse guests of OU students in residential housing during Halloween weekend due to COVID-19 concerns.
Although the university’s COVID-19 restrictions have been reduced, Housing and Residence Life decided early in the 2022 Fall Semester that no guests would be permitted in residence halls from Oct. 28-31. An email was sent to students living in residential dorms announcing that students’ Residential Assistants would plan floor meetings to go over Halloween weekend guest restrictions.
The no-guest policy also pertains to OU students living in River Park Apartments and a heightened presence of staff throughout the complex will be present during Halloween weekend, Jim Sabin, a university spokesperson, said.
“While we do not have COVID restrictions at this time, the planning efforts for Halloween begin early in the semester so a decision was made to not allow non-residential guests in the hall as a precautionary decision based on not knowing how COVID would impact the University and community,” Director of Residence Life Operations Jennifer Maskiell said in an email.
The policy was not implemented as a permanent policy, but as a temporary one to address the current needs of the University and community, Maskiell said.
The last time guests were allowed to stay in residential housing was in 2019 and they were required to pay a $50 fee, Sabin said.
RAs will be enforcing the rule and if a resident is found with a guest, they will be asked to leave. Failure to leave will result in documentation and incident reports, which would then be reviewed by the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility, Maskiell said.
Despite Halloween weekend responsibilities being included in RAs' yearly stipends, they will receive $100 in Bobcat Cash from Housing and Residence Life to thank them for the time they spend on duty.
Mia Pishotti, a sophomore studying studio art, said she believes that COVID-19 cases are low enough on campus to not have the housing restrictions she experienced as a residential student last year.
“I agreed with it last year just because the COVID numbers were rising so I felt like it was necessary almost to keep it down,” Pishotti said. “I do think it's a little bit ridiculous that they are keeping it around this year.”
Eden Nichelson, a freshman studying industrial and systems engineering, said the guest policy for residential buildings will not affect her plans for the weekend.
“Personally it doesn't really affect (my Halloween plans),” Nichelson said. “I just plan on spending Halloween with friends, rather than on the frat scene.”
Maskiell said the guest policy was set purely for the university’s COVID-19 concerns; however, William Chiacchria, a freshman studying physics, said he thinks the rule will also help keep alcohol-related activities at bay.
Chiacchria said that during Halloween weekend prioritizing student safety on campus is more important as non-students possibly come to campus with alcohol and drugs.
“I personally really enjoy the rule as someone who is already scared for safety at OU sometimes,” Nichelson said.
Maskiell said Housing and Residence Life will continue to review its policies for Halloween weekend each year to determine what is best for the university’s students at the time.