‘Berg’s visitor policy changes

Approved vaccinated guests are now allowed to visit residence halls.

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Muhlenberg's new visitor policy allows non-Muhlenberg students to come into Muhlenberg housing buildings. Photo courtesy of the Muhlenberg Office of Communications.

People who do not attend Muhlenberg College have not been permitted in college-owned properties including residence halls and M.I.L.E. properties so far this semester. This visitor policy went into effect on Aug. 29 and defined non-Muhlenberg-student visitors to include (but not limited to) parents, guardians and siblings. This policy was revised for Family Weekend (Oct. 29-31), when approved visitors were permitted to visit college-owned properties from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

The approved visitors were required to wear the Family Weekend lanyard at all times in order to signify that they had submitted the necessary COVID-19 vaccination paperwork. This weekend provided a pilot adjustment so that the College could assess compliance, behavior and COVID safety operations and begin to permit non-Muhlenberg student visitors the weekend of Nov. 5.

“This weekend itself is a trial run, meaning for now, the visitors are limited to parents and families. However, after this weekend, the COVID operations team will assess how the weekend went from a compliance, behavioral, and COVID safety standpoint.  They will also review all COVID data regionally and on campus one more time,” Dean of Students Allison Williams stated in an email to the College at the beginning of Family Weekend. “If all goes well, the College will permit non-Muhlenberg visitors in the halls beginning Friday, November 5th.” 

Due to the success of Family Weekend compliance, the College updated the visitor policy as promised. The email update came to students the evening of Thursday, Nov. 4, with time to register guests until Friday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. If students submitted their forms by this time, guests would be permitted for the weekend.

Some students are “happy but concerned,” like Anna Shigo ’24. Natalie Noye ’23 expressed similar skepticism with the policy, “I worry that people are not going to be compliant with the protocol with registering a visitor beforehand.”

“I worry that people are not going to be compliant with the protocol with registering a visitor beforehand.”

Natalie Noye ’23

Students are required to have the permission of any roommates, suitemates or apartment-mates before finalizing the guest’s visit. In addition, there is a limit of up to two visitors per night for no more than two overnight registrations in a 14 day period. However, the room, suite or apartment may have visitors up to no more than double the occupancy of the residence. There will be no visitors during breaks when the College is closed; including Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break and Easter. These new regulations are welcomed by students who know they can count on certainty. “It makes me so happy that my boyfriend can visit because he is able to abide by all the rules,” commented Grace Nyberg ’23. 

Once approved, the host student will receive a confirmation email from the Office of Housing & Residence Life that must be produced if prompted by a college official. The campus visitor must carry a valid ID and have it available to show if a college official requests to see it. Although college-owned properties do not require  residents to wear masks, this policy now requires both students and their guests to wear a face covering at all times besides sleeping, eating or using the shower. 

The visitor also has to stay with their host student at all times and is not allowed to use their host’s keys or Muhlenberg ID. Any violations of these restrictions are subject to be held responsible in accordance with the student code of conduct or COVID-19 policy. Host students are responsible for the conduct and behavior of their visitors. If a code of conduct violation occurs, the host student may be penalized with financial or disciplinary action, or a letter of no trespass for the visitor if necessary. Further action could be to report involvement in student code of conduct violations to the visitor’s school if applicable. 

The new visitor policy has restrictions but leads students to more flexibility in the last few weeks of the semester. Ideally, this new policy will allow for a safe transition into opening campus to visitors. But it isn’t guaranteed. Kayla Rivera ’23 shared her concerns, expressing that, “I feel like people aren’t going to register their visitors when they visit.”

“I feel like people aren’t going to register their visitors when they visit.”

Kayla Rivera ’23

“I’m not as affected by it,” said Morgan Zissman ‘23. “But I’m glad that people can come spend time with their Mules… I also originally wasn’t as comfortable with it if there wasn’t an option to confirm if they’re vaccinated and now that I know that, I’m a lot more comfortable.”

“I don’t know if I personally feel comfortable inviting outside guests unless I know that they’re completely vaccinated,” Lily Knowles ‘23 agreed. “Now that we’re able to do that it’s a nice option, especially with comedy shows and a cappella shows. It would be nice if a friend from home wanted to come now that that’s an option [for] them to be able to stay in a residence hall. It’s nice but I don’t know how much I’ll utilize it.”

While worry about the swift change in strategy is present, the policy that affects residential halls is taking things seriously. These new rules do implement documentation in order to track potential COVID cases on campus by tracking visitors. But it’s up to students to protect themselves and others.

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