What you need to know if university life gets you in trouble
Campus life can be a beautiful thing. Living on your own means meeting friends, discovering the wonders of beer, and eating pizza at least seven or eight times a week. It’s a freeing experience. But there’s more to worry about than the dreaded freshman 15. The lifestyle of university, even if you don’t embrace it à la Animal House, can lead you into confrontations with the law—which, for anyone on his or her own for the first time, and newly of legal age, can be a downright scared-straight experience.
So here’s a guide to living in residence, bumming around campus, and dealing with the repercussions that can come with partying a little bit too hard.
Q: Do I have to sacrifice rights by living on campus?
A: Yes. When you move in to residence, you’ll have to sign a lease, and you’re bound to that agreement. That means you have to follow the rules about drinking, about quiet hours, about guests, and about pretty much anything else the university chooses to restrict.
Q: My friends and I decided to light some strong smelling “incense” and now a couple of residence advisers are banging on my door. Do I have to let them in?
A: The short answer is no, you don’t. Your room is technically your private property for the duration of your lease, which means residence staff can’t legally enter it without your permission. If they ask to come in, you can say no, and there’s not much they can do aside from issuing a warning and maybe requiring you to meet with the residence supervisor or house don.
But tempting fate is a bad idea. There are certain situations where people can enter your room without permission. Residence staff can come in during an emergency. The smell of smoke, even if it is a bit funky, would generally constitute an emergency at most universities. Staff may also be able to enter your room if you aren’t there (a power they normally use when someone has left their alarm on). And staff can call the police, who can certainly come inside if they smell smoke or drugs.
Q: We stashed everything and opened the door. Can they search my room?
A: No. Neither residence staff nor campus security can search your room. Normally, only police officers have that power, and only if they have a warrant or reasonable grounds to suspect you’re hiding something illegal. However, whatever is in plain sight is fair game.
Next: What happens if they see something?