Editorial: End Loyola’s Mardi Gras gender rule


Seán Brennan

In a few weeks, hundreds of first year students at Loyola will experience their first Mardi Gras, that wondrous time of year when the city goes into full Carnival mode and an all-too-welcome feeling for locals and returning students.

And like clockwork, it’s another year of Loyola’s outdated, pointless rule that bars students from having guests of the opposite sex stay in the dormitories during the holiday.

This is the only seven days of the year that such a rule is enforced.

Last week, students living on campus received the annual informational email from Loyola’s Office of Residential Life, detailing the application process for any off-campus guests visiting for the Mardi Gras break.

And as always, a prevailing rule is that “all guests must be of the same sex as their host.”

Why, exactly?

The blanket explanations will most likely be that Loyola is a Catholic institution, and that this rule has always, and will always, just sort of be there.

But procedurally, logistically, financially, morally — basically however it’s broken down — this restriction serves no real purpose other than that “it’s just like that.”

Loyola enforces several temporary policies for Mardi Gras break, from extensive guest registration to restricting regular visiting hours. This is for student security and for the parents’ peace of mind, so “le bon temps” can “rouler” in a safe and controlled environment.

This gender-based rule, however, — “All overnight guests must be same-gender; no opposite-gender registrations will be accepted,” on the Office of Student Affair’s “Mardi Gras Break” webpage — does not boost student safety. It jeopardizes it.

For every student who’s lived on campus and has tried to host a partner or friend of the opposite sex, this rule has been an inconvenience at worst and a joking matter at best.

Students still find ways to have their visitors of an opposite sex in Biever, Buddig, Carrolton and Cabra residence halls. It’s not difficult, and Loyola’s Residential Life employees and students alike are aware of this.

If a student wants their girlfriend or boyfriend to stay with them for these wonderful festivities, they are going to make it happen. They are forced to go around this rule to make it happen.

Having an opposite-sex guest for Mardi Gras should not be an issue because it is not an issue. But because of this antiquated policy, students who do so are breaking the rules.

So, while The Maroon editorial board does not want to nitpick or in any way take away from this joyous time of the year, the question begs to be asked: Why not do away with this rule?

The university already charges a $100, non-refundable fee for a week in the dorms, despite the already substantial fee to live on campus. According to the Office of Student Affairs webpage, this helps defray the cost of the extra security on campus for the week.

That fee is doubled on the Thursday afternoon before Mardi Gras, and overnight guests can no longer be registered after noon on that Monday.

Besides fees, other rules include a temporary building ID for all overnight guests, a maximum dorm room occupancy of three people and restricting all non-registered guests’ visiting hours from 10:00 a.m. to midnight.

University Police also worked increased shifts, and will be at the front desks of residence halls late at night and in the early mornings.

These rules are security measures. A gender-based guest restriction is not.