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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

University Search of Dorm Room Upheld

Like many other universities, Indiana University has established an inspection program that allows resident advisers (RAs) to search student dorm rooms with 24 hours advance notice. A sophomore received one of those notices a week in advance of an inspection of his dorm room. Apparently, he ignored the notice, and the inspection uncovered drug paraphenalia (four pipes, two bongs, and a grow light). The search also found a six-foot-high marijuana plant growing in his closet.  The student was suspended, but granted reentry after a year suspension. 

The student filed suit against the university and the RAs, claiming that the school violated his Fourth Amendment  rights by searching his room.  He also sought damages from the RAs.

The Seventh Circuit found no merit to the student's due process claim, determining that the "in-your-face flagrancy" of the student's violation of university rules (that he had plenty of notice were being enforced) justified the university's search and later suspension. The Court also determined that the student had given consent to the search as a condition to residing in university housing - he had the opportunity to live in off-campus housing and avoid being subject to the university searches.  

In conclusion, the Court found the student's case "near frivolous" and his decision to sue the RAs offensive, and affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case.  Medlock v. Trustees of Indiana University

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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