College isn’t the real world

Winter Keefer

Recently, I have caught myself calling the world outside of my college campus the “real world” on more than one occasion. I think that I refer to this external world as the “real world” because, in many ways, college students are trapped in a bubble that we have been led to believe is necessary to success. But, this bubble is not the “real world,” it’s college world. In college world, adult students sign away amendment rights to a convoluted contract that very few actually read. In college world, transparency is a “priority”… sometimes.

When a majority of students are either required to live on campus or with a parent for their first two years of college, the question: “Why are we even considered adults at 18?” is hard to avoid.

The No. 1 argument that I have heard for this 2-year requirement is that it eases a student through their transition into independence. I agree that this is something many, if not most, students need when facing the future, but we should have a choice in the matter.

With this on-campus living requirement comes a huge hike in ever-growing financial burdens to either the student or whoever else may be assisting with expenses. I mean, the cost for a single semester on-campus is about the same as an entire year’s worth of rent off campus.

Is it preparing students for the “real world” if they essentially have to sign away Fourth Amendment rights for an unnecessarily large meal plan and a tiny 12-by-12 dorm room? No, it’s not. 

Why I bring up our Fourth Amendment rights is because the university’s ability to search and seize is part of the deal with college living. Believe it or not, kids coming straight out of high school don’t always know their amendments, and therefore do not realize the rights they should be granted. 

The NMU Board of Trustees updated the policy for maintenance entries and searches of campus apartments and dormitories in late February of this year. In premise, there are two kinds of entries that on-campus living does not require a warrant for: health and safety entries and maintenance entries.

Any contraband, such as alcohol or drugs, that is obtained from a student’s university apartment, violating regulations of Housing and Residence Life is no longer exempt from being used as potential evidence against the student since this policy change.

The change in policy is where my second point comes in. In recent news, we have found out that students’ First Amendment rights were infringed upon for at least the past 14 years before there was a change in practice early this year. The practice of telling students not to talk about self-harm with their friends was absolutely an infringement on speech, and it went on for far too long.

Transparency is needed for progress, but there seems to have been more talk about it than action, as shown in the recent resurfacing of the past self-harm practice implemented on students. The change was made, but no one knew because there was no public announcement about it to the NMU community.

The word “transparency” is a perfect example of how we have been tricked into thinking that ambiguity is equal to translucence, because maybe as students we just aren’t smart enough to understand why the university has certain guidelines, policies and practices in place.

The truth is that we are smart enough, and if we are ready to face the real world with full amendment rights granted to us as citizens, we should all be allowed to do so and still go to college.