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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UAEureka: March 6, 2012

Q: Are University of Arizona Police Department officers allowed to enter your dorm room without your consent?

A: It’s a Friday night. You need to unwind after a long week of scholastic endeavors that would make your parents proud. So you invite some friends over to your dorm room, throw on some music and pop the cheapest booze you can squeeze into your underwhelming, underage budget. Things are going just fine until you hear an ominous knock on the door.

Suddenly a night of relaxation becomes one of deliberation — what do you do?

Nowhere in the UA Residence Hall Policies does it say whether officers from the University of Arizona Police Department have the right to enter your dorm room without your consent. This is because all student housing, including dorm rooms, are considered the property of the students living there, according to Sgt. Juan Alvarez, the UAPD public information officer. As such, all students are guaranteed Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizure, except in a few instances.

Alvarez said the only ways UAPD officers can enter a dorm room are if they have a search warrant, if the residents give their permission or if there are circumstances that merit it. These circumstances, which can be applied in part on the discretion of officers, include if they suspect destruction of evidence is taking place or if someone’s health or well-being necessitates it.

Then there’s this portion, “The University reserves the following rights … For authorized personnel to enter and inspect rooms at any time to verify inventory records or occupancy; to perform maintenance; to enforce safety, health and University Student Code of Conduct or Housing Community Standards; or during an emergency.”

Those “authorized personnel” are not police officials but resident assistants, community directors and the like. And “at any time” means just that.

RAs and community or hall directors also are obligated to notify the authorities should the situation merit it.

However, should UAPD ever come a-knockin’, know your rights. You can tell them they have to have a search warrant to enter your room. Then you can shut the door and feel accomplished knowing you beat the system. But you should also know the procedure, and understand that very rarely do UAPD officers roam residence halls looking for wayward troublemakers. But if it’s an RA at the door, then you’ll have to open up.

So should you ever find yourself in desperate need of some relaxation, just remember to keep the noise, and your head, down. Or there’s a very good chance it could roll.

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