Unreasonable Searches

Please welcome guest poster Melanie. 

The CDCs sent out emails explaining that “residence life, along with other university officials will be spot checking rooms,  and common areas.  These spot checks will begin this coming Thursday and will continue throughout the remainder of the semester.” This was decided as a response to the surprise inspection of Rosenthal which led to over 30, $1000 fines for covered smoke detectors. The ResLife staff has decided that in response, rather than making the students responsible for the entire fine, they will randomly check student dorms and charge them lesser fines.

Basically, in my understanding, what this policy says is that they are allowed to enter our rooms whenever they want to “spot check” whether or not we are covering smoke detectors. I completely agree that if the school gets fined for having smoke detectors covered that the students who covered them should be responsible for at least part of that fine.

However, randomly entering our rooms is a violation of our privacy – and the worst kind. We claim to care about social justice, which I believe requires that we also agree in the protection of civil liberties. I understand that being at a college campus and living in what is technically school property and not our own private property means that constitutionally our right to privacy is infringed. But disregarding these rights is wrong of the university, it is important that we feel our dorms are our own, to feel comfortable there, and so blatantly disregarding our rights they loose that from us, they loose our trust, and they take a step to far in eliminating our rights on campus. If we’re gonna live here – they have to allow us to do so, they can treat us as adults and make us responsible for our own actions (i.e. paying the fine if we get one) but for us to do so they have to give us the rights that come along with that responsibility.


One thought on “Unreasonable Searches”

  1. The issue I have with this post is that spot checks are not just about fines, they’re about safety. Even if we, as college students living in university owned dorms at a private university, had the right to be free of unreasonable search (which we don’t), then the law would still recognize a compelling interest in perhaps abridging those rights.

    It’s not just about fines, it’s about safety. Dorm fires have been on the rise in recent years. By doing random spot checks the university is trying to protect its pocketbook, its buildings, and us. If they never find any smoke detectors covered then my guess is they’ll stop because it will be a waste of their resources.

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