Recent reported sexual assaults in Ohio State residence halls have promoted some students to question if the university should enforce some type of guest policy to track who comes and goes. Other schools, like the University of Cincinnati, keep track of dorm guests, which others say might be a little much. Still, a spokesman from the Office of Student Life was mum on whether OSU has plans on enforcing a residence hall guest policy.
There have been two reported residence hall rapes so far this semester, at least one of which involved a woman bringing the attacker back to her dorm.
The first incident occurred in a South Campus residence hall on Sept. 27. The suspect claimed to be an OSU student and was invited to the residence hall as a guest. The incident prompted Ohio State Police to issue a public safety notice.
The suspect in this sexual assault, described as a 22-23-year-old white male standing 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, was later identified and police said he was not an OSU student.
Another public safety notice was issued Sept. 15 after a rape was reported, this time in a North Campus dorm. The suspect had been identified and escorted from university property before the notice was issued nearly a day after the incident.
Even so, Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said guests are solely the responsibility of the students escorting them, so there is no current procedure for the university to keep track of who enters its buildings.
While several Big Ten schools — such as Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue have similar policies — the University of Cincinnati has a more stringent policy for weekend visitors at least.
“Guest check-in requires both the host and guest to leave a state- or college/university-issued picture ID at the check-in point,” UC’s Housing website says.
Meanwhile, only two on-campus forcible sex offenses were reported at UC residence halls in 2013, the same as 2012, according to the UC Campus Safety Report.
At OSU, there were 25 forcible sexual offenses reported on-campus in 2013, a rise from 21 in 2012, according to the 2014 Annual Campus Security Report.OSU is a larger school, with 57,466 enrolled in 2013 to Cincinnati’s 42,656.
Still, while some students said guest policies might be a good idea, they could come off as overbearing.
Holly Nurre, a second-year in industrial systems engineering who lives at OSU’s Residence on Tenth, said she thinks that UC’s policies might go too far for adoption at OSU, but could see its usefulness for younger students.
“It’s a good idea, maybe, if there was an all-freshman dorm,” she said. “Maybe that would be something good just to have for your first year here. But after that, I think that you should start taking responsibility … for who (you) let into the building.”
Others like Mary Nemer, a third-year in human nutrition and Spanish and a resident adviser at Residence on Tenth, said she’s not convinced guest check-ins would be the right move for students.
“Most of our residents are 18 years or older and, you know, hopefully that since they’re adults, they’re aware of the decisions they’re making,” Nemer said. “But I don’t really think it’s the university’s role to restrict who they can bring in and at certain times. I just, I don’t know, I feel like that would be too much oversight.”
Nurre said there are other ways to improve safety without changing procedure to requiring guest check-ins.
“I would prefer if just the main door was open after like a certain time of night. Just so that people at the desk could kinda keep track of who’s walking in and out,” she said.
While schools like UC require guests to check in on the weekends, others, like Indiana University, maintain that non-residents can’t enter dorm buildings unless they are escorted by tenants.
According to Indiana University’s Residential Programs and Service website, “it is the responsibility of the host to register the guests” and no one can enter a residence hall without an escort who lives there. Guests must be escorted at all times while in the residence halls.
And letting non-residents follow residents into dorms when they swipe open the doors — which Isaacs referred to as “piggy-backing,” and what Nemer called “tailgating” — is still a big issue at OSU, Isaacs said.
Nemer said that at floor meetings at the beginning of the year, students are informed to be on the look out for such behavior, advising them to go to their RAs if they are uncomfortable confronting an unwelcome guest.
“We ask residents to swipe themselves into the building and not let other people follow them into the building,” she said.
Nurre said she’s noticed the trend.
“Sometimes you see people sitting outside, like waiting for someone to walk out the door, and that’s always a little unsettling,” she said.
Still, Nemer said she and her fellow RAs work to keep their residents informed.
“Whenever there is a safety issue in a residence hall, we post signs on all the doors to make sure the residents are aware of them,” she said.
With regards to the recently reported South Campus sexual assault, Nemer said there were mentions of sexual assault at staff meetings, but no focus on the details of the event.
Isaacs said Student Life is also working to promote student safety.
“We are consistently reviewing our security procedures to ensure the safest possible environment for our students,” he said, adding that they were “constantly” reviewing security procedures for residence halls.
Still, he gave no details on whether the university would enforce any type of residence hall guest policy in the near future.
Meanwhile, University Police Chief Paul Denton said in an Oct. 3 email that there is no new information on the recent sexual assaults.
“The recent assaults have open and active investigations. Consequently we do not discuss them nor our investigative procedures,” he said.