USC Housing lifts ‘no-guest’ restrictions amid low COVID-19 rates

Students ready to welcome back guests to their rooms as the no-guest policy is lifted.

The Office of Residential Education announced that students will be allowed to host guests beginning Oct. 18 after over a year of mandating a “no-guest” policy for all on-campus residents.

The decision follows a steady, but slow decline in COVID-19 cases on campus, Senior Director of Residential Education Grant Burlew said in an email sent to residential assistants last week.

“[The Office of Residential Education] will reserve the right to reinstate the no visitor/guest policy within a specific building/community or across the entire USC Housing portfolio if we start to see cases increase,” he wrote in the email.

Last fall, the USC Housing Office added extensive COVID-19 spread prevention protocols, with new COVID-19 provisions and compliance addendum sections to the traditional housing and living agreement that all students must sign prior to move in.

The former no-guest policy prohibited students from bringing guests into dorm buildings, rooms, common areas and lounges, even if the guest is a family member or USC student.

Some COVID-19 compliance policies, including Trojan Checks and masking while indoors, will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Burlew also outlined the policy’s revisions that will go into effect next Monday in the same email. Residents will be able to invite up to two current USC students into their rooms. Guests and hosts must wear face coverings inside at all times and comply with all USC Housing policies, according to the statement.

Some students welcome the policy update as it eases their frustration over the no-guest policy.

Sophomores Dominique Sardinas and Kyra Wren cited the no-guest policy as their biggest grievance with USC Housing’s COVID-19 provisions.

Sardinas’s excitement for in-person learning conflicted with her frustration over the housing’s no-guest policy.

“I probably wouldn’t have lived where I’m living if I had known that the current situation was going to be so restrictive,” said Sardinas, who is studying a double major in psychology and also law, history and culture.

Sardinas felt as though the terms of the contract were sprung on her — by the time she received and reviewed the contract’s terms, it was too late to change her housing.

Confused by the gaps in the policy, Sardinas said she reached out to the Housing Services Office via email with several questions and complaints regarding the no-guest rule. She said the office did not provide a clear response.

“Essentially, they didn’t really answer any of our questions,” Sardinas said. “We don’t really understand specifically how not allowing students from USC into our building is effective. It doesn’t make sense at all given we are all going to group lectures.”

Prior to the policy’s revision announcement, Sardinas felt as though she missed out on socializing with other students.

“I definitely don’t think I am getting the full experience because of the guest policy and other COVID restrictions,” Sardinas said.

Wren, who studies business administration, felt like she missed out on social experiences because of the prior protocol. While it was relatively easy to socialize within her building, Wren says it was difficult to make social connections outside of her building under the no-guest policy. “My apartment community is split into two buildings, but we can’t even go into Building 2; we can only socialize within the specific building of the complex that we live in,” she said.

Appreciating the convenience of nearby food places, professors’ offices and classrooms, Wren said she would opt to live on campus again, even under the strict no-guest policy.

Wren said that the new policy allowing guests is great and that she is not worried about possible COVID-19 risk because students have been testing regularly and complying with mask mandates.