By Claudia Villeda
Online Media Manager
Last April, the Student Life Council passed a proposal to strike the “third-person rule” in residential areas, which required “a minimum of three persons in the apartment when using a guest pass” for visitations of the opposite sex, according to the student handbook.
Although only a “trial-run” semester, fall 2022 will be the first semester without the rule in place for students.
The strike was proposed by 2021-2022 ASB president Hunter Elliot. When coming in as president last year, he wanted to bring more community on campus. Passing this proposal before graduating was a major goal of his.
After the proposal passed with Student Life, Elliot had to get approval from the President’s Cabinet for the “third person rule” strike to go through.
“The [Trevecca administration] are putting a lot of trust in us with this and that’s a big step,” he said.
Elliot maintained three main reasons for his proposal: Trevecca’s trust in students, relationship development between couples and “what if no third person is available?”
Relationship development between two students was the most important factor for Elliot. He emphasized the lack of places on campus where students in a relationship can have privacy.
Elliot believes that if Trevecca wants to promote relationships that work out for marriage, students need to have that “one-on-one” time.
“You can see each other, but you have to go to the library or go off campus and usually you have to spend money. I don’t want people to have to spend money to hang out with each other,” Elliot said. “I want our culture to develop relationships in a healthy way, and this is a good thing for it.”
UTA Hall Resident Director Zack Church went to Trevecca for undergrad and married sophomore year.
“My fiancé at the time, you know, we both lived in the residence halls and we didn’t have a place on campus that we could go and have conversations that were serious, one-on-one conversations because there was no private space to have those,” said Church. “If we want to teach students how to be able to have an adult, responsible relationship, there needs to be space for them to be able to have those conversations that are vulnerable and private. We need to allow space for those things to happen.”
Elliot and Church agree that to build long-term relationships, students need to be comfortable spending time together in a living space.
“That’s a big part of marriage, so creating space for students to be able to develop those skills that are required there, I think are helpful,” said Church.
Church does not expect the strike to cause more incidents, but he expects it will make the student experience more comfortable.
“There’s a lot of times I hear complaints from students about having to be the third person when their roommate would like to have their boyfriend or girlfriend over. And then they have to either say no, which means that their roommate can’t visit with their significant other, or they feel uncomfortable having to be that third-wheel all of the time,” said Church.
In 2019, SGA proposed several changes to apartment policies including a proposal to strike the third-person rule. All proposals were passed except for the third-person proposal, which was suspended. Ultimately, SGA decided to keep it because “more education should be implemented before passing the final request,” according to an article by the TrevEchoes.
Julia Michelle, a junior Redford Apartment resident, believes that since 2019 and since living in a pandemic, the whole country experienced a cultural shift where people are more aware about social issues.
“Honestly, it kind of makes sense that this rule is happening now. It’s not like this huge deal, that it’s world changing, but it makes sense within the timeline that we’ve been in for the last three or four years that we are trying to go in a modern route,” said Michelle.
Current ASB President Giselle Jerezano and Church both acknowledge the university approaching a more modern perspective. Church said the rule came out of a traditional Nazarene holiness movement that encourages “holiness of appearance.”
“It’s not just whether you are acting right, but whether what you are doing could be perceived by someone else as inappropriate,” said Church. “In the culture of 2022, I think students understand that in a very different way. They see it much more as we feel like you don’t trust us to be alone together.”
Jerezano expects the third-person rule strike to increase campus culture and build mutual trust between students and the university.
“I think that if I had a male friend and I had to have someone else in the room, that’s just adding another meaning to the relationship. It adds pressure. Now we’re being given the opportunity to be adults,” Jerezano said.
Jerezano says RAs will mainly be in charge of tracking incidents and continuing to enforce rules.
“I suspect if there are any incidents, they’re going to be on the lookout for how regular those are compared to in the past. So just making sure that the RAs do those random rounds around and [students are] still making in a space of following the covenants of the Nazarene church,” she said.