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The visitation complaint continues

Call it predictable, unpersuasive or exhaustingly persistent, but until the Concordia policy governing visitation is amended—if not abolished—the same old tired, clichéd student grievances require redressing. Moreover, these necessary changes are long overdue, and the tax placed on the college in the meantime grows foul.

The policy as it now stands is no secret to any student even acquainted with a member of the opposite sex, and is intimately known by any that have been caught violating its dictums. However, as so many alumni will note, the 1a.m./2a.m. standard known today would seem a liberal open house compared to the policy of past years. Indeed, once upon a time, visitation was only allowed every other Sunday from 1-4p.m. with the doors open.

As much as current students will scoff in disdain at the thought of such perceived treachery, their contentions prove near-universal, and rightfully so: the policy—even the liberal one of today—is archaic, has enjoyed its time, and now ought to be put peacefully to rest in the archives, to be glanced upon as a historical comic strip for future generations.

There are those both among the student body and among staff and faculty that are attached to the status quo. Their arguments are many and just. To be sure, it is not the validity of their arguments that falters, but that the opposition exceeds in quantity and strength of substance.

The primary arguments in favor of keeping the present policy are that it lessens potential tension in roommate relations, it provides a comfortable and safe space for those that would prefer and, by implication, that those concerns outweigh the advantages derived from a liberalized policy (Note: lost donor funding is not included in the above list, contrary to common belief).

These are all valid contentions. The ease and comfort sustained by the policy’s enforcement, however, inhibits student growth. And insofar as college remains a place to mature as social citizens engaged with the world, that inhibited growth grants no favors to students or society.

The reasoning is simple: discomfort is a necessary and pivotal part of that maturation process. Should a high school student come to college and proceed through all four years without being wrenched from his or her comfort zone, surely that college has failed—not only that individual student, but the society that student is then to serve. Breaking those boundaries is important for opening up to new ideas and experiences that will make “becoming responsibly engaged in the world” a whole lot more realistic.

Additionally, tense relations with roommates are constructive. Learning to deal with people and their many quirks and peculiarities in a direct but respectful manner is required to mature socially, lest the passive-aggressive high-schooler be allowed to persist into adulthood. Better to allow potential conflagrations to arise when RA’s are available to mediate than to let those experiences first happen without such a resource. Landlords tend not to care as much.

Even high school students themselves will and do take notice, negatively impacting admissions and enrollment. Students do not take their college decisions lightly (at least not the ones Concordia ought to be seeking), meaning they will commit no small amount of research to their selected schools, which means they will catch this policy. Concordia’s enforcment of visitation restrictions will deter high school students yearning for post-secondary freedom. Even if donor funding were a concern, the financial ramifications of lost enrollment would likely eclipse those of lost donations.

As a necessary but at first seemingly distant point, the policy embodies a heteronormative slant that ignores the growing population of GLBT students on the campus. As evidence of the pattern, look no further than the admirably vital “love is love” campaign. This is a demographic trend that needs to be accounted for, and visitation policies of yesteryear fail to adequately address that change, currently allocating transgender students to living arrangements on a case-by-case basis.

Weigh the combination of the lost personal and social development and depressed enrollment figures, and the concerns of a relative minority of students in favor of the status quo pale in comparison to the desire of the majority to remove the restrictions. Not only is the policy archaic but it also proves financially misguided, and makes it harder for Concordia to serve the purpose it embodies as a college in breeding mature and engaged citizens. Students complaining about visitation may be old news, but there is a reason for that. It is high time Concordia’s policymakers listen to it.

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