Eviction rates in dorms

Sarah McKenzie

University officials have terminated more than 30 residence hall contracts since the beginning of the school year, more than five times the number of contracts revoked during the same period last year.
According to Housing and Residential Life figures, officials have evicted 36 students from residence hall rooms to date. Only seven students’ contracts were terminated by this time last year.
Ralph Rickgarn, coordinator of student behavior for Housing and Residential Life, said he attributes the eviction increase in part to a “no-tolerance” policy on drug possession enacted at the beginning of fall quarter.
But some students have said they are concerned about the eviction process because they claim housing officials require little evidence of wrongdoing to remove someone from a residence hall.
The policy states that officials have grounds to terminate a housing contract the first time a student is caught with a controlled substance, typically marijuana, within the residence hall.
Many of the specifics of these cases are considered private and could not be obtained, Rickgarn said.
As part of the no-tolerance policy, all staff members are directed to call the police if they suspect a resident is using drugs. The policy has been credited with a 45 percent increase in the number of citations issued by the University Police Department.
“The amount of drugs the staff is seeing is surprising,” Rickgarn said.
Housing officials contend that the housing staff must at least find residue from the controlled substance in the room to justify an eviction, which is open to interpretation.
Jennie Robinson, an area hall coordinator for Comstock, Sanford and Roy Wilkins halls, said she has also seen a significant spike in the number of students using drugs on campus.
She said more students seem to tolerate drug use in the residence halls. The new policy, however, has helped to put a dent in the drug use on campus, Robinson said.
The end result has also forced a number of students to scramble for housing in the middle of the school year. The majority of the students evicted are freshmen who are not always familiar with housing options off campus.
Robinson said the students have the right to appeal the University decisions every step of the way.
“Evicting someone is really hard,” Robinson said. “Living off campus is a tough consequence of this policy.”
Robinson said housing staff help students look for apartments. They are normally required to leave the hall two to three weeks after receiving the eviction warning.
Students are also given advice on how to secure a student loan to make a deposit on an apartment, she said.
Housing officials ban students from entering the hall after they are evicted, Robinson said. If the student continues to come back, the former resident is referred to Student Judicial Affairs and may face a temporary suspension from the University.
“If it reaches that point, the student has repeatedly gone back to the hall,” she said. “That is not a normal situation.”

Some Residents Find Policy Too Strict
Eric King, a General College freshman who lives in Sanford Hall, said officials nearly evicted him winter quarter after a resident assistant reportedly smelled marijuana smoke coming from his room.
He said he was smoking a cigar in the room — a designated smoking room — with a few other friends. Police did not cite him with possession of marijuana and King claims housing staff failed to find any drugs in his room.
Rickgarn declined to comment on any specific eviction case.
King said he prevailed in an appeal hearing during the eviction proceedings and said he will remain in the residence hall under certain conditions. He said he was disappointed by the University hearings because he was not allowed to have witnesses speak out on his behalf, while two representatives from housing argued their case.
He must serve five hours of community service for failing to comply with University housing policies, although he said there was no proof of marijuana use.
“I think the rules are pretty strict,” King said. “I have three other friends that are getting kicked out of Sanford as well.”
Ryan Landmeier, a freshman from Illinois, said his parents were very upset after officials evicted him from his room in Sanford Hall during the middle of winter quarter.
The Institute of Technology student said two University Police officers and several Sanford Hall housing staff members approached his room after someone reportedly smelled marijuana smoke. Landmeier, who was not cited by the police for possession of marijuana, said officers found drug paraphernalia in the room that belonged to a former roommate.
However, the pipe and scale found in his room translated into an eviction for Landmeier and his roommate. He said officials have told him that he will be expelled for a semester next year if he visits his friends at Sanford Hall again.
“It’s been a rough year,” said Landmeier, who now lives with his former Sanford Hall roommate in an apartment a few blocks from the Metrodome. “My grades slipped during the move.”