Student Success Strategy #30: Roommates! Part III

When you sign a contract for student housing at a college, you are agreeing to the rules of that housing.  This includes a collective as well as an individual responsibility to adhere to those rules.  Students need to understand the rules and realize the consequences of breaking them.

True story:  Ben knew that his roommate Jason smoked pot, and had asked him not to bring it into the suite they shared.  Each had his own room, so Ben didn’t pay much attention to what Jason did.

One night, Jason had a few friends over while Ben was at the gym.  Some of Jason’s friends brought papers and loose marijuana with them, and convinced Jason to smoke.  They had a few hits before realizing that Ben was probably on his way back, so they put everything away before he arrived.

During that time, someone noticed the distinctive smell and reported it to the residence hall monitor, who walked by the room to confirm the smell and location before calling the campus police.   At about the same time, Ben came in and went immediately to his room to study before bed.

When the police came, they were admitted to the suite by Jason.  The police noticed the smell and asked whether there was any marijuana in the room.  They also asked to speak to each one of those present in the suite, which included Ben, who was told to come out of his personal room to the common area.

Finding marijuana and papers, they took names and turned them in to the Student Conduct Office.  The police decided not to charge the students with a crime, using only the administrative option at the college.  The Student Conduct Office administratively charged each of those in the suite with possession and use.

Jason was found in violation of the housing and conduct policies for possession and use of illegal substances in the administrative hearing.  He was placed on academic suspension for one semester as well as being told to move out of housing within three days.   Ben was also found in violation of possession, but not of use.  He was placed on academic probation for one semester and also told to move out of housing within three days.

Both students were still obligated to pay for the remainder of their housing contracts although they were not allowed to remain in housing.  Ben appealed the decision, saying that he was not in possession but only shared the suite with Jason.   The housing contract as well as the student conduct policy stated that common areas in the residence halls were the responsibilities of all those who shared them, so Ben was still responsible for anything in the suite common area.

What was the final resolution?  What should it have been?

Student Success Strategy #30:  Roommates’ actions may cause legal consequences for each other.  Learn the rules and protect yourself.


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