I didn’t realize how much I appreciated the college’s visitation restrictions until one evening during visiting hours when I walked out of my room in a bathrobe.
It seemed to swallow me up in white fluffiness, stretching past my ankles and wrists. The robe is a large, and I’m pretty small.
Mauck Residence, where I live, has communal bathrooms and I was going to take a shower. As soon as I stepped into the hallway, I noticed one of my dorm-mates walking toward me with her boyfriend. A little embarrassed, I averted my eyes and continued walking.
“Hi Chandler,” a male voice said.
It was awkward. I could only be grateful for the excess modesty offered by my bathrobe, or else it might have been a lot worse. It was then that I realized I was affected by other people’s guests, and I should pay more attention to visiting hours.
Visiting hours define times that men and women are allowed in each other’s dorms, typically enforced by a resident assistant. Men are allowed in women’s rooms from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Tuesdays, 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Men’s dorms are similar, but they allow women on Wednesdays and not Tuesdays.
Students often criticize visiting hours as contradictory to Hillsdale’s emphasis on self-government. Maybe these students are actually offended that their judgement is called into question. Maybe they just want more alone time with a significant other. Based on my experiences with young people, I suspect the latter is frequently the case.
Complaints about visiting hours are rarely founded in arguments with actual substance. The rules do limit the freedom of some students, but they are good for those students, their neighbors, their roommates, and for dorm culture overall.
Last year, Simpson resident Luke Grzywacz, a freshman at the time, objected to visiting hours in a statement in the Collegian. “Limiting the visiting hours pretends that college students don’t stay up with people who are not the same gender as them past midnight,” Grzywacz said. “We’re a college that promotes individual responsibility, but we don’t trust our students to interact with each other in a private setting without having some sort of draconian visiting-hour rule in place. It’s kind of absurd.”
The word “draconian” means cruel and severe, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. It is a reference to the Athenian lawmaker Draco, who was known for his unforgiving legislation. In 621 B.C., Draco prescribed the death penalty for anyone who stole a cabbage. As any Harry Potter fan could likely tell you, the word “draco” also means dragon in Latin, which brings to mind amusing images of a fire-breathing Smaug guarding the innocent women of Olds Residence.
Are visiting hours really draconian? Probably not.
There are obvious reasons why the college administration might not want to take the risk that students will fail to control themselves around the opposite sex. Most students in dorms are living independently for the first time in their lives, and rules can help them make rational decisions.
Further, President Larry Arnn mentioned in his spring convocation address that the rare cases of sexual misconduct and other forms of sexual immorality at Hillsdale College have typically occurred off-campus. Visitation hours likely play a role in keeping the dorms safer.
But these are not the only reasons that the rules exist. Visiting hours are for my former neighbor who, after returning from swing dance club around midnight every Friday night, would sit in our hallway until her roommate’s boyfriend left their room at 1 a.m. (It wasn’t fun, but at least it wasn’t longer.) Really, visiting hours are for anyone who would prefer that a roommate’s boyfriend or girlfriend leave their room at some point during the night.
Visiting hours are also for those who are concerned with privacy. They give the men of Simpson the ability to run around in whatever state of dress they desire without distressing females, and bathrobe-clad women greater freedom to roam hallways free of males.