When to call University Police unclear

The line between who solves student disturbances in the dorms is unclear.

by Andy Steinke

A lot goes on in University residence halls: studying for tests, surfing the Internet, watching TV, eating dinner. Even with several-hundred students living together in one building, most of the time things are calm.

But when residence hall policies are broken, the lines can be blurry as far as who should solve them.

on the web

To read more about University residence hall policies, the judicial process and sanctions, go to http://rudi.reshalls.umn.edu/ current_resident/ and click on “2007-2008 Residence Hall & Apartment Guidebook.”

Assistant director of Residential Life Susan Stubblefield said police are usually called to residence halls when someone needs medical help, whether for injury or for alcohol or drug abuse.

University police are also contacted when thefts occur or when staff members need help de-escalating a situation, she said.

University police Lt. Chuck Miner said most times, alcohol-related offenses bring University police to the residence halls.

“Those, theft or burglary reports and odor of marijuana calls are unfortunately the top three things we get called for,” Miner said.

He said weekend calls are more frequent.

“We’re almost guaranteed a call to each residence hall each of those nights,” Miner said.

However, Stubblefield said police aren’t consulted for every law violation.

“If we come across a simple alcohol situation, and the student is compliant with staff, then we handle it ourselves,” she said about intolerance of underage drinking, which is also a residence hall policy.

Housing and Residential Life usually manages rule-breaking internally, Stubblefield said.

According to the University’s 2007-2008 Residence Hall and Apartment Guidebook, “The Residential Life Judicial System has jurisdiction over any and all violations that occur in the University housing community.”

After an incident occurs, an incident statement is filed and the resident is asked to meet with the residence hall director or assistant director to informally resolve the matter, according to the guidebook.

The meeting is beneficial for the student, Stubblefield said, because it takes less time than a formal hearing before the Student Conduct Board would take and because it lets the resident refute or confess to the charges.

Stubblefield said most students prefer the informal meeting.

Aerospace engineering sophomore Derek Dahl lived in Pioneer Hall last school year and said he had two friends relocated because of repeated residence hall violations, but he said he doesn’t feel police intervention is needed all the time.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to get police involved,” he said. “If they called police on every violation it would be a waste of time.”

He said he thinks the internal justice system works and it’s a better way to handle the situations that occur.

Housing officials try to keep the residence hall process on pace with court proceedings if police were called and charges were filed, Stubblefield said.

“UMPD shares information with us to help us through our judicial process and we assist them when they need more information about their investigations as well,” she said.