Routine dorm searches ensure students’ safety

Like it or not, if you live on University property, your right to the constitutional Fourth Amendment is no longer a valid argument when it comes to search and seizure.

As part of a campus community, students have agreed that in their pursuit of higher education they will follow the rules and guidelines of a university, regardless of whether those rules infringe on their basic constitutional rights.

When a student signs a contract to live in student housing, they are agreeing to uphold the rules of the university and, yes, they are giving up a certain amount of personal freedom to the powers that be.

The buildings that students call home during their time here at FAMU are not actually their own and all articles that they bring onto campus are subject to, and in a sense the property of, the university.

In exchange for the use of public facilities on campus, it student housing, bathrooms or parking lots students make an unspoken pact with university officials that “what’s mine is yours.”

As a part of the Fourth Amendment there is a stipulation that allows administrative searches of public buildings if that administration views those searches as justified by “special needs.”

Under this stipulation, university authorities may conduct searches of private on-campus residences without dispensing a warrant in favor of a probable cause and reasonable standard.

This standard balances authorities, or a government’s regulatory interests, against the private interests of an individual. In layman’s terms the safety of a campus as a whole is more important to campus authorities and the government than one student’s privacy.

Students must remember that the goal of campus officials in carrying out these searches is not to infringe on their rights but instead to protect them from harm.

Students with nothing to hide should not fear these searches.

Instead, they should remind themselves about the level of security that is intact for their protection.

It is interesting to think of how some students view authority figures and rules as necessary only when those rules and figures serve their own individual interests.

Students are quick to vilify campus security when there is a boot on their car or a search of their building is being done. But, those same students sing FAMU security’s praises when that security force is available to them in an emergency.

It may be wise for those students to think of what life would be like without that authority available to them.

After searches of campus housing are done, students jump on the “how dare they” bandwagon.

Those same students would be the ones, in an instance such as the one that occurred at

Virginia Tech, to ask “why wasn’t something done before.” Campus housing searches are preventative measures.

Be thankful that campus authorities are looking out for your best interests, even when you are spitting in their faces.

Caroline Brewster is a senior magazine production student from Tallahassee. She can be reached at