Visitation returns to Morgan’s campus with limited restrictions

As the university revisits COVID-19 restrictions on campus, university residents are granted visitation privileges for the rest of the semester.

This+is+not+representative+of+what+we+planned+for+your+arrival.+We+are+facing+a+headwind+of+positive+growth+at+Morgan%2C+and+with+that+growth+comes+some+growing+pains%2C+Wilson+said%2C+adding+that+the+universitys+total+housing+inventory+increased+this+fall+compared+to+last+years+2%2C600+available+beds.

Edwin Moore

“This is not representative of what we planned for your arrival. We are facing a headwind of positive growth at Morgan, and with that growth comes some growing pains,” Wilson said, adding that the university’s total housing inventory increased this fall compared to last year’s 2,600 available beds.

Thalya Baptiste, Staff Writer

After seven months without visitation, the Office of Residence Life and Housing now permits guests and visitors in university housing this semester.

When students arrived on campus for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year, they were informed visitation would not be allowed until further notice. 

Since the university restructured its COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandate, the Office of Residence Life and Housing announced the return of visitation privileges last Wednesday.

However, there are certain restrictions on who residents can bring into their dorms and how long guests are allowed to stay. 

Only current residential students are allowed to visit and students must relinquish their Bear card when they enter dorms through the main entrance. 

One guest is allowed per resident and residents are responsible for their guests at all times. 

The Office of Residence Life and Housing emphasized that failure to comply with these rules will result in a judicial citation. 

The biggest difference between visitation now and what it used to be prior to the pandemic is its operation is limited to weekends, from Friday to Sunday from 4 to 11 p.m. 

Daquan Moore, resident director of Harper Tubman House, said the changes made to the visitation guidelines since COVID-19 are put in place to protect Morgan students.

Moore said, “A Bear card must be needed, you can not use a regular ID, like a driver’s license. We’re not taking outside visitors because we don’t know that they’re vaccinated unless they’re following the rules that the university set in place.”

Among students, there are mixed feelings about visitation and the new rules that come with it.

Kennedy Corley, a junior sociology major and a resident assistant for Harper-Tubman House, said she does not have an issue with visitation returning because she feels it adds to the college experience. 

However, she has a few concerns about how COVID-19 will be tracked within residence halls.

Corley said, “I just think that my concern now is that, of course with like–I’m not sure how contact tracing will be done, especially since you will be having people from other residence halls coming in and like before they could, you know, like if they had COVID, or something like that it was contained to like their floor, or like their suite, but now with people going in between residence halls.

“I don’t think there’s like a sure way to know like who was in contact with who,” she said.

Some students question whether this is a step in Morgan State’s plan to navigate the pandemic and if full-fledged visitation will come following spring break. 

Morgan recently revised its mask mandate on campus and changed its restrictions to only requiring masks in classrooms, the University Health Center, Montebello’s COVID testing site and on university’s transportation.

Although some restrictions are changing, students like Jailyn Bridgeforth, a junior elementary education major and a resident assistant in Harper-Tubman House, do not anticipate full-fledged visitation on campus anytime this year.

Bridgeforth said, “I feel like full fledge visitation would be irresponsible. I feel like there’s no way to manage it properly. The RAs can do all that we can, but there would be no way to fully manage full fledge visitation for every residence hall.”

“It just doesn’t make sense in COVID times, so I feel like what we have now is a good start,” Bridgeforth said.

Moore was unsure whether full visitation will be restored by the end of the year, but is hopeful it will return next fall.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t say yes and I can’t say no. I would hope at least next year,” Moore said.

Since the university revised its mask mandate, students are no longer required to wear masks in university housing.

After announcing the change in Morgan’s mask mandate, University President David Wilson said the change was a result of low positive COVID-19 cases on campus and students following the safety precautions.

In the last five weeks, the university’s COVID-19 testing system on campus saw a 0.007 positivity rate with 20 positives.

Wilson said, “Our students have been incredibly compliant with protocols, our faculty, our staff, and we are basically now saying we are going to relax these a little bit and create these kind of opportunities for everyone to begin to reengage socially in a way that will restore the Morgan culture.”