Credit cards. Loan agreements. Renters insurance. For many college students these are the first contracts they sign. Some may be taken for granted while others play out on a daily basis. But one that might oft get overlooked is a University code of conduct or a student housing guide. Implicit contracts in dealing with a University that has its own rights.
When the The DePaulia ran an article about students stealing CTA route maps for sport in April, DePaul University waited two weeks and then did a full scale search using resident assistants and resident directors to look through on campus housing rooms for the stolen materials. The school uncovered more than 200 maps and a lot of surprised reactions at the university’s use of its search clause.
When the school was asked about its reaction to the article and the revelation of the possibility of stolen property, they referenced sections of the Terms and Conditions for Lincoln Park 2011-2012 as well as the housing guide-contracts students participate in when using University facilities.
The condition in the 2011-2012 Guide to Student Housing for students states that “the privacy of each resident’s room is an important component of campus housing. Nevertheless, DePaul reserves the right to enter into and search any on-campus living space at any time for the following purposes…”
The purposes included emergencies, to perform inspections and to close the buildings over break periods as well as to perform maintenance or repair services. The most relevant to the search for CTA maps was “When there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of any university policy is being, has been or will be committed.”
The Director of Residential Education at DePaul University, Deb Schmidt-Rogers pointed out that as an administrator her main concern is “always student safety.”
“While making decisions regarding safety policies and protocols, it is always important to balance issues of student privacy,” Schmidt-Rogers said. “It is important for students to remember that when they sign their housing agreement, they are agreeing to all the terms and conditions associated with that agreement.”
Some students do not share Schmidt-Rogers’ views. DePaul senior Douglas Davenport said the searches were “very