The Return of Visitation / Evan Espinoza
Students at Mississippi College had gone over a year without having any form of visitation. Freshman and sophomores alike had yet to even experience life on campus with dorm visitation. That all changed this semester with the announcement of an updated visitation policy that took effect on Oct. 7. Now that visitation is officially back, students are able to make dorm life a little more enjoyable and feel at home.
Mississippi College’s new Residence Life Director, Seth Brill, was able to provide some insight into the decisions that involved bringing back visitation. Brill said, “Over the summer, we [MC staff] were thinking, for the most part, it would be back to normal. Then we saw how the delta variant of COVID-19 was taking its toll and spreading so quickly so we decided to cut back on a few things.”
Now that visitation is back, Brill and other MC staff members do not see it being a setback in keeping COVID-19 numbers low. Brill also mentioned that the decision to bring back visitation was not only a matter of COVID-19 numbers, but a big factor in keeping students socially and mentally healthy, especially in a time when many have struggled in those areas. Brill is also hopeful for his staff of Resident Assistants that having a visitation policy would actually help lower the amount of visitation violations and give them a little more purpose and enjoyability when walking the halls and checking in on students.
To follow up on Brill’s comments, first-year Resident Assistant Kaleb Jefcoat provided valuable insight on the life of an RA with the reinstated visitation policy. As Jefcoat put it, “Now with visitation back, it opens up a whole new element of really seeing the inside of my residents’ life. I get to have conversations with them and those who they associate with and it just makes the hall feel a little more like home.” Jefcoat acknowledged the challenges that come with being an RA which include the inevitable visitation violations and increased amount of room checks. However, he selflessly remarked that it was worth it for the hall.
Students at Mississippi College are all excited that this semester has seen the return of a comparatively normal time on campus, especially compared to last year’s COVID-19 restrictions. Spencer Hayes, a senior on campus, talked about how regular it was to have visitation for his first two years on campus and how different things felt last year. Hayes said, “I think the biggest thing for me was the school taking away same-gender visitation. I had a lot of friends who lived in different dorms and it was hard not being able to hang out with them late at night if some guys were watching a movie in my room or something.”
Many students who were on campus last year felt like the rules on visitation concerning COVID-19 may have been a little too strict. Hayes said he understood the school’s position in trying to keep everyone safe, but found some visitation restrictions to be somewhat ineffective. Will Yarbrough, a sophomore on campus, reflected on last year’s lack of visitation compared to this semester and said, “It got annoying having to meet with friends outside or off campus somewhere to hang out later at night. Now we all feel a lot safer and comfortable just going to someone’s room while visitation is open.”
The sophomores and freshmen on campus who have never had visitation until recently are definitely taking advantage of the new policy, as well as upperclassmen who have had it in the past. Seniors like Hayes who have experienced having and losing visitation encouraged underclassmen to enjoy it as much as they can while they have it. While Residence Life staff such as Brill and Jefcoat take on an increased workload, they too are hopeful and encourage students to make the most of visitation in the dorms.