By Cait Kemp
Tuesday afternoon, Springfield College administration sent out an email regarding a new update to the guest policy on campus. Beginning on Thursday, Nov. 18, Springfield College will allow students to have guests in the residence halls.
Last week, a survey was sent by the Student Government Association (SGA) to students about their comfort level of allowing non-Springfield College students in the residence halls. The survey had an overwhelming response by students, reaching almost 900 students, who the majority were for the rescission of the current no-guest policy.
“We’ve been hearing about the guest policy and people wanting it to change since the very beginning,” said Ari Susi, President of the SGA. “Nora Fitzgerald (Vice President of SGA) and I brought it to Dr. Slandie… she was like, ‘alright let’s work on this,’ so we spent the last two weeks meeting with her multiple times.”
After the results of the survey, administration of the school including President Mary-Beth Cooper and Dr. Slandie Dieujuste met to discuss what actions, if any, would be taken.
“I met with the President and a few of the members of the PLT (President’s Leadership Team) and I said, ‘let’s just review this sooner than later,’” said Dieujuste. “We also did some research and found that there are a few institutions around us that are allowing guests on campus, so everybody’s testing the waters.”
The school administration ultimately decided to change the guest policy to allow guests once again on campus because of the low COVID-19 numbers that students have worked diligently to maintain, and due to the students’ voice being acknowledged.
“We’ll watch the numbers closely to see if there are any jumps or rise, and a lot of it is going to depend on how responsible our students are,” she said.
The email stated, “The change in the COVID-Restricted Residence Hall Guest/Visitor Policy provides us an opportunity to carefully move toward a more familiar residential student experience. It is our hope that the opportunity for students to have friends and families visit will contribute to their mental wellbeing.”
It continued, “The student voice is important to us. We appreciate your engagement and encourage you to be responsible in your decision making so we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
For Susi and Fitzgerald, the change in the guest policy is a personal accomplishment. After campaigning their ideas of “building the bridge” from the student population to the faculty and administration, they were determined and eager to listen to peers and implement ideas that they recognized as popular among many as well as important to the campus.
This was a big change they were able to see through from the beginning, and it proves the impact of student government and leaders within the community.
“My biggest goal for this year was to create a community where the student voices were heard, like when students wanted to see change happen they could come to SGA and we’d advocate for it,” said Susi. “Now seeing that change actually happen is so surreal because that’s what this whole “Build the Bridge” has been all about.”
The change to the policy is an exciting thing for students, but it’s bigger than simply the change itself. The idea that students brought something to leaders to share with school faculty and truly implement something that mattered to them is what is important.
“I’m proud of Ari for taking initiative and being a voice for everybody at Springfield, for all of the students…I just feel like actions speak louder than words and she went into action and is making it happen,” said junior Christina Syryla.
With the new adjusted guest policy, any guest that a Springfield College student brings on campus is required to wear a mask in common areas of the residence halls. Students must register their guests, who are also required to provide proof of vaccination. Students are only allowed one guest at a time, and are responsible for the behavior of that person, whether its COVID-19 regulations or other general rules of the College.
To find out more about the guest policy and other COVID-19 regulations, contact Dr. Slandie Dieujuste at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Springfield College website’s COVID-19 page at https://springfield.edu/covid.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College