As inspections continue, so do violations

By
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Office of Residential Life has not seen much change in dorm health and safety violations, and students are still hiding things that violate its fire safety policies.

“They never do much other than walk in and then walk out,” Leiszle Ziemba ’09 said. ResLife searches every room on campus once a year by plain sight inspections – meaning they don’t open drawers. “I’ve never really heard of anyone getting a big violation, but there are the horror stories of people being fined like $500 or something.”

The only violations that warrant a fine are candles and halogen torchiere lamps.

In January 2007, The Herald reported that nearly 20 percent of rooms had health and safety violations in the 2005-06 school year, totaling about $1,800 in fines.

For the most part, however, the more common violations are wall hangings and extension cords, said Thomas Forsberg, associate director of housing and residential life. In these cases students are informed they did not pass inspection and are re-inspected soon after, Forsberg said.

ResLife warns students they will be inspected 24 hours before their room inspection.

“They found a power cord they didn’t like, and I put it in the closet. They came back later and that was that,” Jonathan Milestone ’11 said.

Forsberg said he is aware that students may be attempting to get past ResLife inspections but hopes that the notices frighten students into removing unsafe or illicit items. In the rare case that students do not pass their second inspection, it can become a disciplinary issue. Students may meet with a dean to discuss their violations if they continue to ignore notices from ResLife, but Forsberg said such extreme disregard of the inspections “hasn’t happened in years.”

“We escalate it step by step,” he said. “The point is to keep that resident and those that live around them safe.”

Forsberg says that ResLife has not noticed a significant change in the number of violations but has noticed that in the last five years, there have been fewer violations among freshmen dorms inspected.

“The most violations used to be in freshman rooms, but as we improve our ability to put the word out as to what is OK and not OK and when inspections are coming, violations have gone down,” he said, adding they rely heavily on contacting students through e-mail. “We are not interested in surprising people.” ResLife workers also post notices in dorms with the dates of planned inspections.