Students Speak: Policies Prohibiting Opposite-Sex Dorm Visitation Help Students Grow in Virtue
Several current students from institutions recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College that prohibit opposite-sex visitation in student residences shared with The Cardinal Newman Society that these policies have a lasting impact on the student culture, cultivating a college environment that supports healthy friendships and encourages students to grow in virtue.
The Newman Society’s recent report on visitation policies at residential Catholic colleges in the U.S. found that the vast majority allow opposite-sex visitation between students in dormitory buildings with few restrictions. Only nine institutions, eight of which are recommended in The Newman Guide, completely prohibit opposite-sex visitation, except for occasional open-house events under close supervision.
“Some might think these standards are not necessary at a Catholic college,” said William Skuba, a sophomore student majoring in philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va. But they “are in fact very necessary at all Catholic schools,” because “they exemplify the commitment the school is making to the preservation of human dignity by fostering men and women of character, and allowing them to acquire and cultivate a healthy respect for the opposite sex.”
Christendom’s dormitory buildings are maintained as single-sex spaces, save for one weekend a month for a Sunday afternoon open house, said Skuba. This policy is not an “arbitrary, outdated measure,” but a way of living that improves “both the individual and the community” by “cultivating in Christendom’s students a respect for the opposite sex that they would not have otherwise.”
Skuba noted that in his experience as a student, the inter-visitation prohibition helps men and women grow in virtue together, as men are given “a chance to live in a place with only men, to learn to become men from those older than they are, [and] to be challenged frequently to maintain the high standards that Catholicism demands from men.”
Bridget Hebert, a junior student majoring in philosophy who transferred to Christendom in part because of the College’s student life policies, concurred that the regulations drastically increased the healthfulness of students. “There isn’t a sense that the policies are meant to discourage any kind of interaction between the sexes,” said Hebert. “It’s more of a positive exhortation to foster virtue through properly ordered community life.”
“The phenomenon of modern universities, where hormonal, single men and women live together in such a close community, already destroys much of the mystery that was maintained between the sexes for so long,” Hebert noted. “It makes chastity an incredible struggle.”
Separating men’s and women’s living spaces helps students “to recognize the differences between men and women, and to combat the modern world’s tendency to debase the sanctity of womanhood and of manhood,” Skuba added.
Many of Christendom’s student life policies are grounded in encouraging virtue, said Skuba. A professional dress code is required for classes and Sunday Mass, fostering respect for the students’ academic vocations. Alcohol is not allowed on campus, with the exception of a few College-approved events, and Skuba noted that this provides a sense of community.
Such policies “are integral to the school’s charism as a training ground for young men and women of the new evangelization,” said Skuba.
Chase Crouse, a junior student majoring in communications media and interdisciplinary studies at John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, Calif., shared with the Newman Society that he found the University’s student life policies refreshing and attractive, in part because they are an indication that the staff “genuinely cares about the salvation and sanctification of each and every student that walks through the doors of our school.”
Crouse, who previously attended a state school before transferring to John Paul the Great, was “blown away” at the difference in the staff’s treatment and care for students. “The staff cares about our sanctity,” said Crouse. The University’s residential policies “remove the near occasion of sin from the living spaces of the student body,” helping students to focus on their education and their journey to Christ, which is the end goal of any faithful Catholic institution, Crouse shared.
Hannah Dorss, another student at John Paul the Great, noted that inter-visitation prohibition not only helps students grow in morality and temperance, but also serves to limit complications that frequently arise from men and women living together. Colleges with lax visitation policies often run into a gamut of student life issues, such as an increased possibility for sexual assault scenarios. Students are protected “from making passionate choices or from even being taken advantage of — that happens a lot on college campuses,” Dorss noted.
“Having stricter policies on inter-visitation is a good thing and helps people respect each other and stay out of situations where they happen to be alone with their partners, their passions and their bed,” said Dorss. Moreover, the policies “foster community life, virtuous behavior, honesty and communication among students and faculty,” helping students “live out our Catholic faith by giving us strong ethical standards to adhere to, but which are reasonable.”