Vandalism Prompts Cut in Visiting Hours

By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2007

Catholic University's rules for visitors in dorms have long been stricter than those at other local universities, which tend to give students universal key cards and, essentially, freedom. This fall, after a spate of problems at a rowdy freshman dorm, Catholic tightened restrictions even more, including a ban on visitors to Spellman Hall after 8 p.m. on weekends.

Now some students are saying the school has gone too far.

It's an issue every college has to consider: Should they let students make their own fun and their own mistakes, or impose rules that limit both?

In the past, nonresidents had to leave all campus dorms at Catholic by 2 a.m. on weekends, and temporary overnight passes were allowed for visitors of the same gender it they are not students at Catholic. Over the summer, the administration ratcheted the time limit back to midnight.

And this month, after a particularly nasty outburst of vandalism at Spellman -- including holes punched in walls and water fountains wrenched out -- freshmen who live there were told of the new restriction.

Many students were aghast. Midnight is like 8 p.m. for most students, said Joe St. George, a freshman from Ohio. So 8 p.m. is like -- afternoon.

"I get my best work done from midnight to 2," Ryan Winn said. "I'm a very typical college student."

Another freshman said the visiting hours were fine. For a nursing home.

The Tower, the student newspaper, wrote a scathing editorial.

Junior J. Peter Donald started a petition, collecting hundreds of signatures. He said the rules limit students' ability to study or work on projects in groups because the library isn't open late, either. He volunteered to help staff a late-night study room at the library.

"We understand we're in a uniquely Catholic environment. We understand that shooting for the moon -- 24 hours -- is a little much." He's asking for the 2 a.m. cutoff back. "The situation is pretty bad right now. We need to make a change."

He has been cited twice this year for having his girlfriend sleep over.

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