After sending out an email to all residential students on April 11 about not allowing guests in their dorm rooms due to an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic cases on campus, Montclair State University Residence Life changed their policy two days later after outrage from students.
The policy, which did not allow residential students to have other students living on campus inside their dorm rooms, will now allow campus residents to have one guest in their room at a time.
Orlaígh Humphries, a freshman animation and illustration major living in Blanton Hall, is one of the many students who spoke out about the policy on Instagram. Humphries’ post criticizing Reslife’s policy received over 1,000 likes and close to 100 comments. They were surprised their post went viral.
“I did not think whatsoever that it would get as much attention as it did,” Humphries said. “I don’t see myself as a very influential figure. I thought because I am a freshman, my opinion would have not been taken seriously.”
Humphries felt the need to speak out about the policy due to their belief that the campus was not following their own COVID-19 guidelines. In recent weeks, Montclair State has held in-person campus tours for prospective students and a retirement parade for former Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Dr. Karen Pennington.
“They’re breaking the bubble by bringing in random adults for tours. It’s hypocritical, it makes this campus less safe,” Humphries said. “If the campus is so unsafe, why bring them in anyway?”
Humphries was not the only student who spoke out about Reslife’s policy. Richard Steiner-Otoo, a freshman geography and environmental urban studies major who also resides in Blanton Hall, worked with Montclair State students to send an email to the new Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Dr. Dawn Soufleris about their concerns regarding COVID-19 measures on campus.
Steiner-Otoo was shocked by the quick response from the university.
“I started reaching out to people I knew already felt passionate about and really outspoken about it [Reslife’s policy],” Steiner-Otoo said. “I made a Google form to survey and get the student’s opinions on how they felt about sort of certain policies. We most definitely were not expecting this quick of a result. We wanted to see some positive change and we were not sure how that change was going to come about, but we’re definitely shocked and thrilled about the results.”
While Steiner-Otoo is surprised about the quick response from the university, he is also grateful that Montclair State has an administration that addresses students’ needs.
“We understand that the school has done a great deal to keep us safe,” Steiner-Otoo said. “I’m thankful that we have an administration that is willing to listen and willing to work with us and hear us out and not treat us like we don’t understand what’s going on.”
In their email to Montclair State residents on April 13 reversing the guest limitation policy, Reslife reminded all students to continue to take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 by completing Hawk Check daily, limiting off-campus travel and for students to continue to get vaccinated.