Privacy concerns arise after improper photo case


After the improper photography incident that happened on Jan. 21, some students have had questions about the full scope of their privacy. Students wonder what privacy is guaranteed in places such as residence halls when someone who doesn’t work for the university can roam wherever they please. The residence halls turn into students’ home away from home, so most like to be reassured that their privacy is treated with utmost respect.


Whenever a student moves into a residence hall, they sign a contract, much like that of a lease, that lists the particular guidelines and rules the student must follow in order to continue residing in their hall. In these guidelines, it lists when employees from the school, such as maintenance workers, have the right to enter the room.


“We have the right through contract guidelines that each student signs to enter the room if a work order is filled out,” Cindy Spencer, Director of Residential Living, said. “Also, say there is a leaky pipe or something like that, if it’s an upstairs room, we also check the downstairs room for any damage.”


Spencer also noted that there are routine maintenance checks, but students are usually notified of this ahead of time.


“There are times [when] we notify students of routine maintenance,” Spencer said. “We usually do this over the break and we let the students know before they go on break that maintenance will occur so they can move certain things around so areas in the room can be reached for maintenance.”


When it comes to residential assistants entering a student’s room, Spencer noted the RAs can not just key into a room whenever they want.


“For an RA to enter a student’s room, they must go through the hall coordinator of that particular dorm to get permission,” Spencer said. “The only other time RAs are able to enter a room is for things such as health and safety checks, which RAs give notice about days in advance and list out the time and day for those checks.”


An RA from Jarrett Hall voiced the same, stating it’s a safe bet to check with the hall coordinator as an RA before keying into the room.


“So, basically as an RA, it’s a safe bet not to key into the room unless it’s a health and safety check,” Roper Kerby, junior Communication major and RA in Jarrett Hall, said. “The trick about health and safety checks is that we post it ahead in time so the residents know what’s going to happen, but as far as me keying into the room, as an RA, it’s a safe bet to get a coordinator.”


Blake Gieseking, graduate student in psychology and hall coordinator of Jarrett Hall, said there are few instances of having to enter a student’s room.


“If the RA has concerns that a student has someone after visitation hours in the room, they come get me, and if they student doesn’t open the door for me, which they usually do, I key in,” Gieseking said. “If it is suspected that the student is having a party type thing in their room with alcohol or is breaking university rules, or the law in general, UPD is usually called.”


Spencer said the only other time an RA enters a room without permission is when there are concerns about a particular student.


“When a student hasn’t been heard from or seen in a couple of days and hasn’t answered their phone, we will usually check on the student just out of concern for their well-being,” Spencer said. “We may have a couple of employees go and key into the room to check on the student, or may even have a UPD officer back up the employee, just for health and safety reasons.”


If students have any questions regarding their privacy in residence halls, they can contact any RA in their respective residence hall, or they can contact the Residential Living office at 806-651-3000.