Working in Residence Life I have seen this scenario play out numerous times. The roommate A comes in and sees roommate B doing the nasty or Roommate B is sleeping while Roommate A is getting her kicks. It happens. However, now Tufts has placed a policy ban of sex while your roommate is in the room. Is this going too far?
The Tufts University policy is as follows:
Any resident student who will be hosting an overnight guest must adhere to the following expectations:
- You must obtain permission from your roommate(s) before your guest arrives to campus.
- If you live in a staffed residence hall you must obtain an Overnight Guest Registration Form from your Resident Assistant…
- You may not allow your guest (whether Tufts affiliated or not) to occupy your room without your presence or give your room key or building fob to your guest(s) under any circumstances.
- You are responsible for the behavior of your guests at all times and are liable for any damages incurred to your room or the residence hall as a result of your guest's behavior/actions.
- You may not engage in sexual activity while your roommate is present in the room. Any sexual activity within your assigned room should not ever deprive your roommate(s) of privacy, study, or sleep time.
Many times it is hard for roommates to have these and other tough conversations; they are coming from home with their own room and now they have to share a space with someone. In Residence Life, we want to be able to give the residents skills that will help them in the future. I know when many of my residents had to have these conversations, it was probably the hardest thing to do; but it gave them conflict management and other skills that have helped them out in the future.
And thinking like a typical resident, what would be considered as "sexual activity?" Making out? Hugging? In today's society, that is ambiguous; it's not necessarily the actions, but the motivation behind them (in my opinion). If you are going to tell them not to do it, then I believe then you should define what that is for them. I can see how this could lead into some potential problems. And if a resident was to engage in this type of an activity and the roommate was present, what would happen? Would they get kicked out of the room? It's their room too and they have a right to use it as they see fit. With that said I like MSU's residence hall policy; it splits it between primary and secondary rights.
Michigan State's residence hall policy is that as a resident your primary rights are to read and study without interference, sleep and have access to belongings, and the right file grievance in your room. Any secondary rights, like having guests or having sex, cannot override those primary rights. Yeah there are some grey areas, but that allows the roommates to set the tone in their room for themselves, not the college or university. You could also do things like Wayne State's Roommate Agreement, where there is a list of questions and answers that help facilitate those conversations.
(My roommate and I at MSU in 2003)
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