University News

In inspections, low-level violations found in 18 percent of dorm rooms

By
Contributing Writer
Sunday, October 30, 2011

This semester’s health and safety inspections found violations in 18 percent of dormitory rooms and resulted in one fine for the possession of a candle. Most of the violations were low-level.

Open source flames are the most dangerous and destructive elements in a residence hall room, according to Richard Bova, senior associate dean of residential and dining services. For that reason, candles are the only objects for which students may incur direct fines. The fine per candle is $100.

ResLife notifies students in advance of all upcoming health and safety inspections, which happen every semester. Inspectors work in teams of two and scan the room for prohibited objects in plain view. They do not open any closets or drawers.

 Candles found in plain sight are confiscated immediately, but Bova said students tend to recognize the dangers of candles in dorm rooms and to be “very conscientious about not using them.”

ResLife usually issues $500 or less in fines annually.

“ResLife is really good at explicitly saying what is and is not allowed in most cases, and I think it’s reasonable that they don’t want candles in the dorm rooms because people leave them lit,” said Amanda Vernon ’12, who incurred a $100 fine last year for having a visible candle in her New Dorm single.  “That’s the price you pay,” she said.

 The most common violations during this semester’s inspections were power strips and extension cords with too many plugs in them and tapestries or other objects concealing smoke detectors. The incidence of violations varies little from year to year, Bova said.

ResLife inspectors leave warnings, in the form of written notes, for problems in dorm rooms that need correction. If upon re-inspection, inspectors find the same problem, a mandatory meeting with ResLife results. For items such as gasoline, halogen torchiere lamps or fire extinguishers that qualify as immediate hazards, no warning is issued and the items are confiscated.