by: Tina Terry Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eyewitness News learned more about the visitation policy Tuesday that allowed a man inside a dorm room at the University of North Carolina--Charlotte, where police said he sexually assaulted a female student.
Eyewitness News showed the video of police taking Damien Pruitt into custody Friday. Pruitt isn't a student at the school, but officers said a student allowed him inside her dorm room at Pine Hall around 3 a.m. Friday.
Police said he attacked a woman who was sleeping in her bed a short time later.
More than 5,500 UNCC students live on campus.
The campus chief of police said Tuesday that UNCC works hard to keep them safe from intruders.
"Once you cardswipe into the building, then you have to card swipe into your room," said Chief Jeffery Baker.
Eyewitness News learned visitors can enter any dorm room, day or night, as long as they're invited in by a resident.
Administrators said those visitors don't have to check in at the front desk.
"They can visit each other. We don't have restrictions on gender who can visit who, that kind of thing," said Baker.
There are some restrictions.
For example, a policy manual we found online said guests can't stay longer than three days within a 10-day period.
We checked policies at other Charlotte area universities like Johnson C. Smith University, Catawba College and Winthrop University.
The policies in place were similar to UNCC; however, each of those schools have one or more dorms that require visitors to leave by a certain time.
Students at UNCC told Eyewitness News they don't want that, even in light of Friday's alleged sexual assault.
"I don't think I'd like that. I think it'd be a little uptight," said Haley Fretwell.
"We have a lot of guy friends that come to hang out with us," said Stephanie Gilbertson.
However, parents Eyewitness News spoke to said they'd like to see a change to protect everyone on campus.
"I'd like to see a stricter visitation policy," said Marcellus Tory.
"Any person can come and go at any time and you never know who the person is. I would definitely be scared," said Joy Landry.
We asked Jacklyn Simpson, the associate vice chancellor and director of housing at UNCC, if the school is reevaluating the visitation policy.
Simpson said there has been no conversation about changing it.
In a written statement, she said,
"What we will do is continue to emphasize with our students the need to be very careful about who they might invite into a building. Inviting someone into a residential setting of any type, affects not only the person bringing the individual in, but everyone else who lives in the community.
"We deal with individuals who are at an age where they feel invincible. Creating awareness and having them act on that awareness is a never-ending challenge for college administrators everywhere. We are no different and will continue to accept the challenge of trying to impact the decisions our students make in a positive way."
Officials said that students have the chance to vote on the visitation policy at each residence hall at the beginning of each year.
They've been doing that since Dr. E.K. Fretwell was chancellor of UNCC. He became chancellor in 1979, so sometime between 1979 -1989 he put the policy in place of voting on visitation by residence halls.
For at least the past 10 years students have voted to have a visitation policy with no time restrictions.
To see more local news stories, click here.
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