As Halloween weekend approaches, it’s important for students to know what privacy rights they have as they plan to celebrate on the bricks. And it’s no secret: dorm rooms are rife with activity that breaks the community standards. Resident assistants are required to report any suspicious activity or smells, and students tend to forfeit their rights simply at the sight of a cop.
But don’t let the cops trick you into believing you have to open your door or that opening your door will lessen any potential charges.
If you learn anything from living in a dorm, let it be this: you do not have to open your door for police officers if they do not have a warrant.
Resident assistants and university officials, however, can come into a dorm room if there is a nuisance to other residents or are concerned for the wellbeing of a student, according to the student housing handbook.
In any case, if the police come to a dorm room, knock and the resident is home, police are not given automatic entry unless there is reasonable cause or they have a warrant.
If a cop comes to your door, protect yourself. No matter what they say, unless they have a warrant, do not let them into the room.
If you want to take the safest route, however, do not even answer the door. No matter how much they knock, they cannot enter without a warrant. RA’s and university officials are the only people who residents are required to let in.
If anyone comes to the door claiming to be a university official, they are required to have proof of identification. If that person does not have an ID proving they have permission to be in the building, they are violating student rights.
Every person living in a residence hall has the right to ask for identification. Do not let anyone into the room who does not have that ID.
Although student housing has its limitations, residents still have rights to privacy. Because residence halls are owned by the university, it is allowed to enact its own rules, such as the resident directors being allowed to key into the room. But it’s important to know what rights students have while residing in the dorms.
Shelby Campbell is a junior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Shelby know by tweeting her @bloodbuzzohioan.