Education Social Justice Students unhappy with guest fee for Halloween By Jaelynn Grisso Posted on October 25, 2013 8 min read 0 0 445 Any student interested in bringing a guest for Halloween weekend is tasked with registering the guest and charged a fee, which many students said they felt was excessive. Students living in dorms must complete an online registration process for their guest as well as pay a $35 fee charged to their student account, and each student is only allowed one guest. Many students, like sophomores Kelley McAndrews and Grace Swihart, said the fee was a bit too much. “I don’t like that the fee was $35. I think that is kind of steep,” McAndrews said. “I think they are taking more money than they need and we are kind of getting ripped off.” While Swihart was also not happy about the amount, she said her main concern was the lack of transparency. “I think it was a little steep of a price to pay, especially when I didn’t know where that money was going,” Swihart said. “I didn’t know where my money was going, or what it was for.” Sophomore David Holman said he would also appreciate it if the cost was more up front. “I think it’s a little bit sneaky and… conniving because they just charge it to the student account. So I feel like it’s a little bit of a money-grab for the university,” he said. “In that respect, I don’t like that they can benefit financially from that… I don’t have a problem that they charge people, but I think they should be more honest.” Despite the fee, students said they felt the registration process was for the better. “I feel like it’s a good process because… the party culture can have a bad rep for this university, and a lot of times that reputation can be brought on by people that are visiting and don’t even go here, so by having that process, it kind of eliminates or, I’d say, minimizes the chances of a nuisance happening because of outsiders,” said Holman, who brought a guest last year. McAndrews, who transferred here from the University of Washington this year, said he was glad OU had a registration process. “I like that everyone is kept track of so that people don’t come into our campus and destroy things without being held accountable,” he said. The process of registering guests was enacted as a response to overcrowding in dorm halls, said Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones. “It became a health and safety issue,” she said. “We kind of got to a point where we said ‘We need to tighten this up a bit.’” Students had several guests per person, and rooms became filled beyond the allowed capacity. Another issue was visitors who were not guests of students, but would sneak into residential halls as a place to sleep for the night, Jones said. In response, university officials enacted a policy in 2005 of allowing only one guest per person in a room, as well as other procedures like changing the locks on most of the exterior doors of dorms and requiring all residents and guests to wear wristbands identifying them as a resident or guest of a particular hall. But these policies do not come without a cost. The university has to foot the bill for these policies as well as the wages of extra staff patrolling campus, and Resident Assistants who are required to be on duty from 7p.m. to 3a.m. Friday and Saturday night of Halloween weekend. After receiving this bill for two years, the university decided to begin charging students $25 in 2007, which was raised in 2012 to the current $35. Last year, the university paid over $114,000 out of an account specifically for the weekend. That estimate does not include extra costs that come from a separate account specific to residential housing, said Assistant Director for Communications and Technology for Residential Housing Josh Bodnar. The amount that the university brought in from the fee last year was $40,075, less than half of the costs. The number of guests registered and the number of guests actually in attendance for Halloween weekend has been steadily decreasing since registration began. However, the decline may not be caused by registration and the fee. While Holman said that, if he lived in the dorms again, the fee might stop him from bringing a guest, both Swihart and McAndrews said it would not deter them.