Residence Halls at ODU: Are they safe?

By Cristina Jerome, Shareka Jackson, and Lindsey Conner

ODU Visitation/Overnight Guest Policy

Visitation:

A visitor is defined as someone that is visiting between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Residents are not permitted more than 3 visitors at any time between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. (Visitation Period). Housing & Residence Life strongly encourage residents to use lobbies and designated community spaces when interacting with multiple guests simultaneously.

Overnight Guests:

Each resident is permitted to having only one overnight guest per night. Overnight guests are defined as guests visiting between the hours of 11 p.m. and 10 a.m. and must complete a guest registration form at the front desk. If form is not completed and turned into HRL staff by 11 p.m., the guest will not be permitted to stay. Residents, regardless of community, may not host overnight guests for more than two nights in any consecutive seven-day period without approval from professional Housing & Residence Life staff. 

                                                 -ODU Housing & R.L.

While many students living in residence halls at ODU say they feel safe, often printed guest polices are violated and police say they often have to ask non- residents to leave, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Students use social media to attract other people to parties.  This is how we have individuals that are not ODU students or even live in this area on campus,” said ODU Police Officer Damaso Medel.  Officer Changamire Durall agreed. “When I arrive on scene, I ask the resident to excuse everyone but any other residents.  After that, I call the R.A.  They handle the violations from there.”

Students interviewed said they felt safe from intruders in their college residences, but some were not aware that they are required to register their guests and others said that they do not always do it, or that there are many ways to get around the rules. A review of security showed the following problems in ODU-owned apartments.

  •  Apartment buildings have no central desk area to verify that each person entering is a resident
  • There are no barriers to keep intruders from following residents into an apartment building and causing harm to the building or its residents
  •  Although each building is manned with an RA for every approximate 30 residents, their role is not to monitor every person entering the building.

When told about these flaws in security, resident Kyle Wilson said he had never thought about the dangers posed in the building.

Resident Assistant, Kaci Carter, who works for housing at ODU, said that although she enforces the guest policy, residents can get around it by having their guests in the building prior to the arrival of the Night Desk Receptionists.  These receptionists are sitting at the front desk of each residence hall except the apartments and are responsible of checking I.Ds from midnight until 5 A.M. (See attached video).

“I don’t feel as safe as other students living in traditional housing, because I am not forced to show ID or to check in with the front desk receptionists,” said Javon Hill, a resident in Powhatan apartments. “It’s hard to determine who is a student and who is not, because the apartments are open to anyone.” Students interviewed said taking extra steps to feel safe has become a norm.

Police say there have been no reports of trespassing in the residence halls. Sophomore resident of the University Village, Diamond Clarke, feels that the trespassing crimes are not being reported.  “I am always seeing people in my building that don’t seem to belong,” she said.  “It is not my place to ask them for their I.D, but I am positive that all the people that come to my building to party on the weekends do not live here.”