The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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To what extent are dorm checks ethical?

Evelyn+Pierce%2C+Graphics+Manager+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Evelyn Pierce, Graphics Manager / The Bucknellian

On Thursday, Feb. 22nd, we all received a haunting email from Residential Education about Health and Safety inspections. YikYak blew up, as did Fizz, and before we knew it, memes were circulating around nonstop. As funny as it all may be on the internet, we must ask the question: are mandatory room checks ethical? As a private school, Bucknell can honestly do whatever it wants in this regard, yet this seems to be a severe invasion of privacy. Sure, we signed away our right to privacy when coming here and choosing to live in Residential Halls, but that does not mean Bucknell should be going about these literal room checks the way that they are. 

As I read through that email, it all seemed a little crazy, but what really did it for me was when I got to the “cleanliness” bullet point. According to the email, “Students are expected to maintain their spaces to a standard of safety and cleanliness to not require more attention and resources to upkeep the space than normal.” Who determines what a clean room versus a messy room is? What I consider to be a messy room may be someone else’s version of a clean room, and visa-versa. 

Moreover, despite a few exceptions in the freshman class, by now, everyone is an adult. All of us are eligible to vote and enlist in military branches. Many members of the senior and junior class can legally consume alcohol and tobacco products, yet Bucknell cannot trust the student body with their rooms? It seems contradictory to me that Bucknell is checking our rooms rather than checking that we are all going to class. 

At the high school I attended, which included boarding students, dorm checks were once a week but the adults were not permitted to enter a boarders room without the student being present. Each dorm check was explicitly scheduled on a specific date and time that students were made aware of much prior to when it would occur. This seemed reasonable to many of us as most students were as young as 13 years old and no older than 19. The checks may have been very frequent, but they were done more respectfully. The fact that my high school conducted dorm checks in a more ethical, respectful manner than the way Bucknell is doing so is beyond me. The fact that Bucknell residents do not need to be present for the inspection also poses a huge privacy issue. 

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Naturally, other students see the rationale more than I do. Kalena Gatesman ’27 feels that dorm checks are normal, stating that “they need to make sure we are sanitary and also not breaking the rules that were outlined prior.” This point is a key argument that was made to bring back safety checks.

Another problem though is that Residential Advisors (RAs) have to conduct the health and safety inspections. Yes, their housing is getting paid for, but regardless, their jobs are already extremely difficult and time-consuming. At the end of the day, RAs are still students, who should not be put in the uncomfortable situation of going into a resident’s unattended room. If I was an RA, I would personally feel uncomfortable going into a random person’s room without their permission. Still, at least Bucknell allows RAs to pick a time that fits best into their schedule and allows RAs to be paired up based on these schedules.

I believe Bucknell students should be placed in a randomized lottery by hall and receive an email informing them of a certain time period they should be in their rooms for a dorm inspection to take place. This way, each student can be present for the inspection and the RAs can coordinate what time works best for them. There would be less discomfort on both sides surrounding the social norm that you do not walk into a random room without specific, timely approval from the student. 

Bucknell already warned us about the safety checks, so by now most people have cleaned their rooms, put away personal items and made their rooms look decent. It should be no trouble at all for Bucknell to go the extra step and make this process a tad bit more ethical and comfortable for everyone.

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