Editorial: Re-visiting the guest policy
Student diligence is key in preventing problems
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
As reported on the front page of this issue, a 20-year-old non-student, Donald L. Boyer III, allegedly gained access to an on-campus apartment under false pretenses. While Boyer did not appear to commit any crime inside the apartment, he has been charged with prostitution for asking two female students at a bus stop to perform a sex act on him. This is clearly the type of individual the UNH community does not want wandering around its apartments and resident halls.
Of course, it is extraordinarily easy to gain access to most resident halls and apartments without an ID. It almost seems rude to not hold the door for the person behind you.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. In almost every case, it’s just another resident or student entering the dorm.
But there are the rare trespassers who may pose a threat to students living in the various residential buildings. Is there any way to keep these people from gaining access to where students live?
The easy answer would be to make UNH’s guest policy stricter. According to the 2012-13 UNH Room and Board Agreement, “Overnight guests are not permitted in University housing without advance permission of all students of the room/apartment in which they are staying.” The policy also states that hosts are responsible for the actions of their guests and must escort them wherever they go in the building.
This is the standard policy for many other schools in the New England area, including Plymouth State University, the University of Vermont and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
But at Keene State College, a more stringent policy is in place. Students have to obtain a guest pass for any non-student they want to host for a night, according to the Keene State student handbook. The guest must carry the pass wherever they go and must be able to present it upon request. Desk attendants are in place in each residential hall to ensure the policies are enacted.
While Keene State’s rules do keep unwanted guests out more effectively than most other policies, it is not necessarily something that UNH should adopt.
While non-students are often the perpetrators of the various crimes committed at UNH, most offenses do not occur within residential halls.
There are very few reported incidents of trespassers in UNH residential halls. Boyer is an exception, not the norm.
Enacting a policy similar to Keene State’s would merely create unnecessary barriers for UNH students trying to invite a friend to stay for the night.
Executive Director of Public Safety Paul Dean sent out a safety bulletin via email this past Tuesday urging students not to let anyone they do not know into their residence halls. The bulletin also described how a non-student had recently gained access to a residence hall under false pretenses. Residents reported the incident and the alleged perpetrator turned out to be Boyer.
In this case, UNH’s policy was effective. Residents have to be diligent to make sure that when they see something suspicious, they contact the proper authorities. The safety of residential buildings ultimately relies on the people who live there.