Know your rights with dorm searches
Students should read contract, know rights when it comes to dorm room searches
Published: Friday, June 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
In 2010, nearly 40 percent of all arrests for liquor law violations on Oregon State University’s campus occurred in residence halls. That same year, almost 300 resident hall students were given referrals for liquor violations.
Although it is clear many students receive disciplinary action regarding alcohol use in the dorms, many do not fully understand their rights and responsibilities as on-campus residents.
Prior to moving in to residence halls, students sign a University Housing and Dining Services contract which states the “resident agrees UHDS may enter, and UHDS reserves the right to enter, rooms with or without notice.”
But David Akana, the UHDS assistant director for residential education, explains resident assistants do not perform room searches in conduct-related situations.
“They may ask students about what is occurring in a room, ask them to remove any items that are not permitted in the halls or provide additional information. However, they would not be personally searching a student’s room,” Akana said.
The exception is health and safety inspections resident assistants perform at the end of each term.
Akana explained resident assistants are trained to investigate and address all policy violations, such as alcohol use, with the students involved. But they are trained to contact Oregon State Police if they are not able to address the situation due to personal safety concerns, non-compliance from students or if there is evidence that drug use is involved, Akana said.
In recent years, there has been a continuous increase in drinking-related arrests occurring in on-campus housing. According to the U.S. Department of Education, OSU had 59 of these arrests in 2008, which jumped to 99 arrests the following year, and 111 by 2010.
For students age 20 and under, drinking in the dorms is a clear violation of both university policy and Oregon law.
Alcohol use is permitted for students of legal drinking age under certain conditions, such as not consuming alcohol in the presence of those under age 21. All guidelines can be found in the UHDS student policy and information guide.
In order to prevent citations or other disciplinary action, students should make sure they fully understand their responsibilities as residents. By reading through the UHDS contract prior to signing, and contacting their RAs or other staff members for clarification, students can avoid sanctions that result from alcohol use in OSU residence halls.
Mackie Swan, reporter
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