Wire Stock Photo.
With the newly-implemented Marquette Police Department, students are rightfully concerned about how they could be affected. Hearsay, rumors and conjecture abound regarding MUPD; not least among them being whether the department can enter a student’s dorm room without their consent. The Wire decided to investigate.
In the past, when a student would sign a housing contract to move into a residence hall they would agree to have their room subject to search by the Department of Public Safety. This is no longer the case.
The transition to a police force means that MUPD must abide by the same constitutional rules that prohibit illegal search and seizure as any other police department would. Marquette police must obtain a search warrant before they can enter a resident’s dorm room.
“Students can’t sign away their constitutional rights,” MUPD Captain Jeff Kranz said. “We can still enter a residence hall, but when it comes to entering a private area, like a resident’s room, we can’t without a warrant.”
Matt Osborne, a former residence assistant in Abbottsford Hall and a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said that last year if a RA smelled something suspicious like marijuana in the hallway, they would just call DPS and have them take care of it.
“RAs didn’t deal with drugs at all,” Osborne said.
Elias Magallanes, a RA in Schroeder Hall and senior in the College of Engineering, called the new procedure “pretty gray.”
“It’s new to all of us, we are still trying to figure out exactly how to do it,” Magallanes said. “Now we actually have to knock, and if we smell it, we get the hall director and wait for MUPD … it’s more of a process.”
Mary Janz, executive director of housing and residence life, said that there are several occasions a residence assistant or hall director can enter a student’s room. These include repairs and inspections, imminent hazard to person or property, or a violation of public law or university policy.
“RAs and residence hall directors always have the option of asking or looking for evidence,” Janz said.
Kranz said the police department is not trying to be “sneaky” about getting around student’s rights and cannot provide help to a RA who may be searching a student’s room.
“We can’t take an RA and tell them where to look,” Kranz said. “There can’t be a cop staring into a room while an RA is looking through it.”
The MUPD captain said since the formation of the police department, they have not had to use a search warrant to enter any student’s residence.
“It’s been pretty smooth sailing- it shouldn’t be an issue,” Kranz said. “We got a good group of students, and there hasn’t been a lot of conflict.”