The open door policy needs to go
Views 52 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 3 - 2019 | By: Jalin Coert
Many a late night, I have sat upon my bed binge watching Netflix and studying for exams with my friends.We’ll share stories, blankets, bad advice, rare good advice, and enjoy one another’s company until one of us realizes it’s far past bedtime. What’s wrong with this picture? According to the Open Hour policies at Westmont, nothing -- provided all of my friends are all female; however, if one of those friends is a male, a ton.
In the Student Handbook, Westmont’s Open Hour policy “designates times during which you may visit the individual living areas of members of the opposite sex.” The reasoning “is twofold”: First, it aims to avoid complete privacy of students of the opposite sex “because of the potential abuse”; second, it provides respect for roommates. In an attempt to accomplish the first goal, “room doors of hosts must remain halfway open and allow unrestricted visual access to the room” and at no point “may you engage in intimate activities”. The example of lying under covers together in a bed is used.
A couple things: What about the LGBTQ+ community? Here, the Student Handbook doesn’t use inclusive language in the event of such an occasion. If the concern is preventing sexual relations between students outside of marriage, that’s a shortcoming. Second, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that at least 90% of our student population is recognized as legal adults. While I do stand in support of sex within marriage, and appreciate Westmont’s efforts to promote this belief, adults are scrappy, and if they really want sex, they’re going to get it -- open door or not.
For those who are not in pursuit of these things, the open door policy at Westmont implies an assumption that students do not have the self-control or personal boundaries needed to abstain from sex before marriage. This contradicts the idea of independence, responsibility, and trust that Westmont so often publicizes that students possess. Additionally, who says that every time multiple women and men enter into a room, a giant orgy will ensue? What about platonic relationships? Students should be able to have a room filled with mixed sexes without the assumption of irresponsible behavior looming over their heads -- that is what the open door policy brings.
Tell an audience they cannot have something, and they are more likely to pursue possession of that thing. I don’t think everyone at Westmont desires to have intimate relations with the next person to walk into their room. However, the consistent reminder of the open door policy when someone of the opposite sex enters the room reminds students of the implications of a closed door. It’s an unnecessary reminder that they are 1) not trusted as adults, and 2) are assumed to jump the next member of the opposite sex who walks into the room.
To avoid this, Westmont should get rid of the open door policy, even if the Open Hour policy remains intact.