On Drug Raids

Earlier today fire alarms went off in Meeker, Munford, and other dorms around campus. It was alleged by an anonymous source that public safety had deliberately pulled the fire alarms in residences of students who had received citations for smoking marijuana in the past, then entered the rooms of those students in order to check for suspicious activities.

When I spoke to Public Safety this evening, they insisted that the alarms were part of the regular checks that officers do to ensure safety. However, multiple students with prior citations were confronted with officers who had visited their room, confiscated bongs, marijuana, and distributed citations. Others received texts from friends warning them that their fire alarms would go off next, and if they had citations they should be concerned.

Even if Public Safety did intend to conduct the alarm tests for the primary purpose of finding drugs, it is within the legal rights of the administration. However, I believe that this community, which has recently engaged in multiple public forums to cultivate a more trusting, supportive, and safe campus (It Happens Here, Alcohol Talks), has been betrayed by its administration. IF (and a very strong IF, since no one has confirmed or denied those intentions yet) it was deliberately to confiscate drugs, the actions of Public Safety have not only undermined efforts to create an open dialogue between students and administration, but will, I believe, lead to less honesty, less discretion, less respect, and many more problems in the future. So Middlebury, what do you think?

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6 thoughts on “On Drug Raids

  1. As an alumnus, I’d prefer that PubSafe proactively curtails student drug use rather over reading about my Alma Mater getting busted for promoting a campus drug culture.

  2. ^Well as a student, I don’t want Public Safety going through the room that I pay a considerable amount of money each year for.

    As an aside, perhaps if we did more to promote a campus weed culture we’d have fewer problems with drunken property damage…

  3. I write in response to the concerns raised in this blog string that Public Safety’s recent fire drills are actually a disguised effort at drug detection. Please be assured that this is not the case. The Department of Public Safety is required by the U.S. Department of Education to conduct fire drills twice a year, and these generally occur in the fall and in the spring. The timing of each specific fire drill exercise is influenced by consideration of the weather, the staffing needs, and the class/event schedules taking place within the residential space.

    The unannounced fire drills are intended to simulate the conditions that would occur in an actual emergency and test the response capabilities of the residential community, including our staff and our students. During the fire drills, an officer must enter each student room in order to ensure that occupant(s) have left the building. Occasionally an officer will encounter issues that reflect safety violations, such as taped smoke detectors, tapestries covering ceilings, candles, occupants failing to leave the building or illegal substances. The officers will make sure everyone exits and will continue with the drill noting the location of the problem. Any follow up of these issues would be conducted in accordance with College policy and would not fall under the “emergency entry into room” that exists for the purpose of conducting a drill. For more information on entry to student rooms, please refer to the College Student Handbook: http://www.middlebury.edu/about/handbook/student_policies/residential#Entry.

    Finally, the drills are not targeted at any individual or any particular residence hall; we conduct drills in all of the residence halls.

    Public Safety appreciates the students’ cooperation with the fire drills. The department also shares with the student body the obligation to maintain a safe college community and a commitment to maintaining high safety standards.

    Elizabeth J. Burchard

    Director of Public Safety / Associate Dean of the College

  4. So it’s not a drug raid but it might as well be one, since nobody has any idea when these drills are supposed to happen and the officers can look around the rooms as much as they want.

    Sigh.

  5. Well Non-smoker 2, considering that most drugs are illegal in the state of Vermont, and that they are not allowed on the college campus there shouldn’t be much to worry about, should there?

    Also, if you have ever seen one of these drills, when public safety is checking rooms they typically peek in, ensure that no one is inside and leave. It’s not like they are taking their sweet time trying to bust people. If you have things that are clear violations of college policy in your room, especially in plain site, then perhaps they should be taken away.

    You may pay to stay in that room, but you also agree to follow the rules of Middlebury when you move in, so it’s not like you didn’t know that there is a possibility that someone may check your room. As Ms. Burchard pointed out in the link in her response, the policies for room entry are clearly spelled out in the handbook, and not reading them does not mean that they don’t apply to you.

    • I’m sorry if this seems like an attack, it was not meant to be one. It is just frustrating to me when people automatically think that Pub Safe has it out for students (i.e. checking rooms for drugs) I’m pretty sure that Public Safety would much rather do something other than check every single student room on campus.

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