NMU revises search and entry policy

Von Lanier

The NMU Board of Trustees recently updated the policy for maintenance entries and searches of campus apartments and dormitories in late February.

Any contraband such as alcohol or drugs that is obtained from a student’s university apartment and violates regulations of Housing and Residence Life will no longer be exempted from being used as potential evidence against the student.re-DormSecurity_KM

“We were one of the only schools in the region not to hold students accountable for items that we came across in cases of a health and safety entry or a maintenance entry,” Jeff Korpi, interim director of Housing and Residence Life, said.

The policy has remained unchanged since 2000, but the update brings NMU up to standard with the conduct of other postsecondary institutions throughout the Midwest.

While the older version of the  policy only applied to residence halls, the new one has been extended to include on-campus apartments.

“Previously if we came across items that were prohibited against student code, we didn’t hold the student accountable on those types of circumstances, and now this gives us the authority to do so,” Korpi said.

Another major change in the policy is that the confiscation of contraband and disciplinary action taken against a student used to be limited only to scenarios in which a faculty member could witness something in a resident’s room merely passing by or during the event of a warranted entry.

According to the policy, warrants are only granted in response to a written application by the dean or director of Housing and Residence Life on account of facts that constitute probable cause, and a copy of the warrant must be left in the room or apartment at the time of entry.

“I’ve known of one warrant entry to have taken place probably in the last ten to fifteen years, so it’s very rare, and it’s very difficult to prescribe a set of circumstances that would require that,” Korpi said. “It’s not something we’re going to exercise on a hunch. We’re going to want to be pretty founded in our reason for doing such a thing.”

The warranted entry part of the search policy has remained the same, but now a health and safety entry, formerly called a counseling entry, can also result in a student being charged and disciplined for any violation found within the room. Prior notice before a warranted entry must be provided to the student by a residential supervisor. During a health and safety entry, faculty must provide reasonable grounds that an entry is necessary in order to counsel a student.

The updated policy has also added checking on a student’s overall health and verifying evacuation for fire during routine drills amongst the list of reasons for entry.

The final important change to the policy is the removal of the component that states a Housing and Residence Life director or the dean of students who issues a warrant entry must make every attempt to get the consent of the student prior to entry.

“Incidents of entry or search which are carried out in violation of the intent of this Policy may be reported by the student in accordance with the procedures established in the Student Handbook,” the policy states.

“In the end, we’re going to enter in the spirit of student safety,” Korpi said.