The University of Richmond Office of Residence Life and Housing changed the number of people allowed at registered events in on-campus apartments to 30 attendees following a reevaluation of the floorplans and safety measures.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, students who lived in University Forest Apartments were allowed to host events with up to 50 attendees, and students who lived in Gateway Village Apartments could host events with up to 25 attendees, Patrick Benner, director of Residence Life and Housing, said. Last year, because of COVID-19 precautions, students were able to host events with up to 25 attendees at both locations.
Students who live in the apartment-style housing are required to attend a block meeting at the beginning of the year where they undergo training that covers policies, what they have to do when they host an event and what forms they have to complete in order to be approved to host a registered event, Benner said.
At the training, students received an info-sheet that outlined the new rules, said junior Abby Letocha, who lives in a UFA.
The rules listed in the info sheet are posted on the Residence Life and Housing website, under “Registered Events.”
“I thought a lot of the information they gave was super intuitive,” said junior Cheryl Chan, who lives in a UFA.
Initially, the physical layout of the apartments helped determine the number of people allowed at the registered events, Benner said, noting how the townhouse versus flat style and overall square footage of the apartments was a determinant.
However, under further examination, Benner and his colleagues calculated the square footage of just the common spaces of the different apartments and realized that the measurements were nearly identical at roughly 400 square feet, he said. These calculations included the dining and kitchen area, the hallway corridor and the living room space.
“If everything is the same square footage, we need to look at more appropriate numbers for these events,” Benner said.
With a maximum of 50 people, each attendee was only getting 8 square feet to themselves, without accounting for the school-provided furniture and the additional furniture that students inevitably bring, he said. This creates problems with contact tracing and other COVID-19 protocols.
In order to reach a more reasonable capacity, the Office of Residence Life and Housing staff and UR Police Department referred to the alcohol policy to address the change from a risk management standpoint, Benner said.
As soon as students start congregating outside of the apartments, problems arise, Benner said. Specifically, if students are seen outside with cups of alcohol, the party will be shut down.
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Chan said she does not think most students follow the rules, specifically the capacity rule, and has been at events where she recalled there being more people than the new rules allowed.
“No one is doing a head count,” Benner said. “It is up to the students’ honor.”
Chan said she was unaware of the capacity change despite being at the block meeting.
“I think it’s a good idea [to have the new capacities], Letocha said. “I don’t know how many people are actually going to follow some of them like I think that people will think, ‘What’s an extra person or two?’”
Resident assistants and URPD know who is hosting and who was denied to host an event so they can monitor the block, Benner said. Only one apartment per block is allowed to host on a given day.
In order to register to host an event, half of the residents in the apartment must be 21 years old. All must have gone to the block meetings or a make-up for the training, he said. Students are put on event registration probation and are not able to host a party if they have a conduct violation.
“We want students to be able to host events and have them in a responsible way, and we don’t want to set any of them up for what could be a potential failure,” Benner said.
Contact news writer Abby Spiller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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