Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

KU students reject university’s proposed new alcohol policy

Plan would have allowed staff to enter rooms if violation suspected

A panel of Kansas University students has rejected a proposed policy change that would have allowed senior housing staff to enter rooms upon suspicion of a housing violation.

November 19, 2009


A panel of Kansas University students has rejected a proposed policy change that would have allowed senior housing staff to enter rooms upon suspicion of a housing violation.

The KU policy proposal would have allowed housing staffers to enter students’ rooms after knocking and being denied entry if they had probable cause — something like hearing students chanting “Chug! Chug!” or detecting an odor of marijuana.

Members of Student Senate’s Student Rights Committee unanimously voted against the proposal, with many citing privacy concerns as the main reasoning behind their vote.

Committee chairman Tom Cox said that students are concerned that the policy wouldn’t curb drinking and that the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities guaranteed students the same privacy protection as found in the U.S. Constitution.

“Usually people who get involved in the Student Rights Committee are there because they’re really passionate about student rights,” he said. “To a lot of students, the privacy protection is the greatest right they have while in student housing.”

Diana Robertson, director of student housing, said in a letter to the committee that present policy allows for only residents of the room to be written up for a suspicion of a violation, which may not hold those participating accountable. Also, she said the rights of the individual must be balanced against the rights of the community that do not want loud parties occurring.

“Gaining access to the room is not the goal; the goal is to gain cooperation in upholding the group living standards,” Robertson wrote.

Emily Williams, a graduate student who served as the chairwoman of a separate panel of KU students who examined alcohol policies, said that this likely represented the last chance for the housing policy, which was floated by KU administrators earlier this year.

Cox said any other changes would need to be brought next year, and that, while technically KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little could overrule the decision, KU administrators have indicated they were willing to abide by whatever students chose.

The Student Rights Committee did accept other recommendations to be forwarded to KU’s Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success for possible implementation.

Most of the recommendations involved education and awareness efforts. Those included an educational media campaign, public service announcements on buses and in student media and the creation of KU student-centered alcohol support groups.


Daniel Kennamore 8 years, 3 months ago

"The KU policy proposal would have allowed housing staffers to enter students’ rooms after knocking and being denied entry if they had probable cause — something like hearing students chanting “Chug! Chug!” or detecting an odor of marijuana."

Of all the totally off base and cheap shots I've ever read on the LJworld this takes the cake. I'm actually shocked at the lack of journalist integrity in this article...

This policy would have basically allowed a land-lord to enter your apt under whatever they decide is 'just cause'.

Liberty275 8 years, 3 months ago

This rule would be a blatant violation of the 4th amendment. How any government agency thinks a search without a warrant can be allowed is disturbing. If it was a private college it would be legal, but not in one run by the government.

Get a warrant just like everyone else has to.

Daniel Kennamore 8 years, 3 months ago


So you think it's okay for one group of voting adults to decided to take away the rights of another group of legal adults?

Phillbert 8 years, 3 months ago

They're living on state property. This is a common policy at many other public schools, including at Pittsburg State.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 3 months ago

A dorm is totally different than an apartment. It is idiocy to let the students make up the rules.

gsxr600 8 years, 3 months ago

As it stands now, if they suspect anything whatsoever, they demand to enter the room. If the students don't let them it, they all get written up and have to talk to the assistant complex director. My room got written up once because they overheard the word whiskey being said. There was no drinking. Just the word whiskey.

Steve Jacob 8 years, 3 months ago

I see the students point, but KU is tired of getting ripped by parents for not doing enough to save there "child" from themselves.

boothillbilly 8 years, 3 months ago

This policy is asinine. I agree srj, this proactive stance is going overboard to deflect criticism.

But another point to consider: how stupid do you have to be to be caught with alcohol in a Dorm room. I went to a private University where the desk clerks could check your bags and the RA's could enter your room (per the lease agreement) if they suspected that a party was going on.

Solution, either drink outside of your dorm room, party with quieter people, or enjoy a quiet beer while studying. You got to have your fun and skirt the rules.

Yet the danger of this policy is that it seems to give RA's access to anyone's room whenever they deem it necessary. How much do you trust an RA?

jafs 8 years, 3 months ago

This policy is being proposed in response to the many alcohol-related tragedies that have occurred in Lawrence.

Parents seem to want the university to help stop their kids from killing themselves and others.

A university is not a "government agency" like the police department.

It is not simply a landlord.

People from 18-21 are legal adults, but drinking is illegal for that group.

Perhaps the university should simply call the police everytime they suspect students of doing something illegal - I bet the students would go for this policy instead.

Police can stop and search a car if they have probable cause - they can also enter without warrants in some circumstances.

The question is whether the high rate of alcohol-related fatalities is enough of a reason to allow more access to students' rooms.

Chris Bohling 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm a college student and I believe I speak for all college students when I say that I'm sick and tired of fighting to be treated like an adult. For the record, I don't drink (at all) but I can't condone treating students like children, which is what is going on here. College students are adults and are therefore under the full protection of the Constitution. Yes, drinking is illegal for 18-20-year-olds, but that does not change that they are adults and therefore protected against unwarranted searches. Possession of cocaine is illegal for everybody, but you can't just bust into someone's house if you think they have crack in their kitchen.

18-20-year-olds are not "provisional adults" who somehow get only limited Constitutional protection. The Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities clearly states that you do not abandon your Constitutional rights when you enter into a contract with the student housing department. Per the Bill of Rights, your house or apartment cannot be searched without a warrant from the proper authorities. Because the CSRR states that the Constitution still applies to on-campus housing, then it is flat-out unconstitutional to search a student's room without a warrant.

It doesn't matter if the policy might be prudent or successful; it violates the highest law of the land and therefore should not be enacted.

Jimo 8 years, 3 months ago

I would more inclined to agree with the University if their proposed policy would logically remove the problem that supposedly inspires it. All I see here is a significant infringement upon the legitimate privacy concerns of students without a real likelihood of a solution.

Question: if KU were to be given this power, would KU also disclaim any shield from legal liability for failing to provide a dormitory free of alcohol and drugs? In short, does KU believe in the effectiveness of its own proposed policy?

Chris Bohling 8 years, 3 months ago

Jimo hit the nail on the head. What is this policy going to change? With all three of the substance-related deaths around campus last year, the use of those substances actually occurred off-campus. The university can't do anything to stop problems that are occurring outside of its jurisdiction.

What would the proposed policy do except leave students constantly worried that their RA would be busting in at any moment?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.