Families and friends were allowed to visit students in their rooms on campus at Florida A&M University last weekend.The housing office had open house in all 13 of its facilities from Oct. 13-15.
“That was set up so we could allow parents and guests to freely visit the different resident facilities. In that, we also allowed students to visit each other,” said Housing Director Isaac Brundage.
The open house was between the hours of 1-6 p.m. “It went very well. There’s a likelihood that something like that will happen again,” said Lamar Coleman, assistant director of housing.
Several students said they enjoyed having visitors in their rooms, and it brought up the issue of permanent co-ed visitation in the facilities.
“It was nice to have male company,” said Shantavia Strickland, 18, a freshman pharmacy student from Jacksonville.
“I think they assume that we want male company just for physical, sexual reasons, but that’s not true. It was fun having them come over. We just chilled out and watched TV,” Strickland said.
But she also said that some of her fellow students are not mature enough to handle co-ed visitation.
“We should do it every weekend,” said Chris Haynes, an 18-year-old freshman architecture student from West Palm Beach. “It will stop them from sneaking girls in.”
Yeharar Vielot, resident director of Truth and Wheatley Halls, recalled that she had co-ed visitation at her undergraduate school.
“Everyone had to sign in, whether you were male or female. If you didn’t live in that building you had to sign in with someone who did,” Vielot said.
“There was some accountability as to where you were and what you did if you did not live in that building, when you were in it,” she said.
Vielot said there is a way co-ed visitation can work if the university decides to implement a new policy, but she does not have an opinion as to whether it should.
“If they change the policy, then as resident’s director, I would act accordingly and enforce methods that would help keep tabs on who’s in the building and where and what times they need to be out,” Vielot said.
Coleman said co-ed visitation is something that should be assessed, and they are looking at possibly having it in the future.
Brundage said there are several factors that have to be considered before implementing a new policy.
“There’s some procedures that you have to have in place, security-related things that should be in place,” Brundage said.
“And then there’s some facility-related things that should be in place before we allow co-ed visitation,” he continued.
Coleman said the housing office is in the process of reviewing all the policies that are currently in place to see why they are in place and to make sure they are meeting the needs of their students. He said they are looking to see if there is a need to restructure.
“Based on that review and what we learn…and the national practices of higher education nationwide in terms of what other institutions are doing, we are reviewing everything, co-ed visitation being one of them,” Coleman said.
Quinntrell Macklin, 19, a resident assistant in Gibbs Hall, said his residents were enthusiastic about the visitation.
He said he thought it gave them a higher level of responsibility.
“It doesn’t seem like we are being their parents over again,” said Macklin, a sophomore biology pre-dentistry student from Ozark, Ala.
Coleman and Brundage are both new to the university and say they are trying to listen to the needs of students.
“We are having conversations (about co-ed visitation). It’s nothing etched in stone,” Brundage said.