It’s 1:00 AM and you hear a knock on the door. You don’t know who it is – and they didn’t rattle the door handle, so chances are it’s not a student. “Who is it?” you ask. “UVM police, open up.” So what do you do? Do you say, “No, go away”? Do you go in your room and act like you’re not there? Or do you open the door, let them in and pray they don’t see the bong sitting in the middle of the coffee table and the empty beer cans strewn all over the floor? Last weekend, this happened to me. One of my friends quickly stashed the paraphernalia while the rest of us panicked. And, unaware of our rights as students, my friend opened the door. The police barged in and right away noticed about fifty beer cans toppled over on the counters and floor. The head honcho told us that he had “probable cause” to search the suite and gave us a short list of options: give verbal consent for a search, sign a consent form, or he could go wake up a judge and have him sign a warrant, in which case consequences would be greater.
It wasn’t my suite, so it wasn’t my decision. My friends made a quick choice to just sign the form – it would be easiest. And wouldn’t the cops search anyway? So the cops took I.D.s and tore through the rooms, searching for any and all possible violations. Seven of us sat there in silence, each running the situation over in our minds, re-digesting it over and over and over. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty. Clich?©, but true. Each of us hoped they would overlook the things they saw. Maybe they’d just glance in each room and not scrutinize every crevice. But we knew what they would find. Ten beers and half a bottle of Baccardi down the drain. Two bongs, a bubbler, a brand new hooka – all sitting on a shelf in the police station collecting dust. What I come away from this incident wondering is “why don’t we know our legal rights?” So I went online to the UVM website to find out what our rights are as students. But it seems as if someone doesn’t want us to know. I searched and searched, with little progress.
When I finally found the tidbit of information that’s available, it said, “If UVM Police or University staff find you in violation they will write you up. At that point, you will not pass go; you will not collect $100. In fact, you might pay $100 or more in fines and fees.” I have two comments to make about this. Number one: why does Police Services feel the need to thieve quotes from Monopoly? Two: shouldn’t the people that policies effect be explicitly told what those policies are? I would even go so far as to say that it is downright unlawful for Police Services to impose policies on us when the university makes it nearly impossible for us to access the information. With that said, I have something to say to Police Services and the administration: withholding this information from us gives you an unfair advantage. I challenge you to allow us our right to know and understand the policies affecting us. Maybe then this will be a fair game.