Kendra Baker – Special to Southern News –
Extension cords, halogen lamps, candles and incense—these are a few of the items that students residing in Southern Connecticut State University residence halls are not allowed to have in their rooms.
Abigail Derbyshire, junior mental health psychology major, who has lived on Southern’s campus for six semesters, said she thinks some items that are banned from residence halls, like weapons, are reasonable, but others are outrageous.
“I think that, within reason, students should be able to bring anything they want,” said Derbyshire, “except for things that actually involve fire, like candles, or that would combust into flames, like fireworks.”
Derbyshire said she doesn’t understand why the school would provide students with things that are fire hazards in residence hall rooms—like ovens—but won’t allow students to bring things like extension cords, or even keep Christmas lights up for more than two months or so.
It’s a little confusing for the students when talking about why, for a short period of time, students are allowed to have christmas lights in their rooms said Jay Henderson, president of residence hall assoiation.
“We [residence life] do allow power strips for laptops,” said Henderson.
In addition to extension cords, candles and incense, Southern’s “Residence Life Student Guide to On-Campus Living” says students are not allowed to bring things like space heaters, air conditioners, microwaves, refrigerators, cable boxes, clothes washers and dryers, dart boards with metal tip darts, halogen lamps, hot plates, mattresses, futons, illegal drugs and paraphernalia, and weapons.
“We [Residence Life] already offer microwaves and fridges to every room on campus,” said Jeffrey Clancy, community advisor Schwartz hall.
Robert DeMezzo, an interim director of Residence Life, said most of the rules for residence halls are centered around the health and safety of the residential students.
“A lot of [residence hall rules] come from state or federal law,” DeMezzo said, “but an equal amount certainly comes from some best practices from other universities around the world.”
DeMezzo, who has worked at Southern since 1997, said Southern adopted a policy prohibiting floor lamps with plastic lamp shades after an incident that occurred at a New York state university.
“In New York [there was] an incident where a student took out an appropriate light bulb and put in a much brighter bulb, and although there’s a warning for maximum wattage, [the student] decided to exceed that and the plastic melted and the [lamp] caught on fire,” said DeMezzo. “Those [lamps] were banned from all New York state universities, and then [Southern] adopted that [rule] as well.”
Various departments and offices are involved in the decision-making process for residence hall rules and regulations at Southern.
“When it comes to making contract rules, residence life staff is involved in the process, and before anything is finalized, the Vice President of Student and University Affairs is included, as well as any other office which [the rules] could possibly effect, such as Judicial Affairs [and] University Council.”
DeMezzo said the rules for Southern’s residence halls are reviewed every summer, during which staff members have a week to review the rules themselves then come together at Southern’s Housing Office to talk about what makes sense and what doesn’t.
During the meetings, it’s typically clarification or language that’s changed slightly.
Junior Valerie Lupo, a communication disorders major, said she believes Southern’s residence hall policies pertaining to banned items are “a little extreme.”
“Whoever makes the rules should lessen up on the regulations, at least for the upperclassman halls,” said Lupo. “They still treat us like kids even though we’re now adults.”
Lupo said she thinks instead of banning items that are “quite necessary,” such as lamps and extension cords, more attention should be paid to things like providing students with extra chairs and more lighting in the residence halls.
“We’re doing our best to keep residence safe,” said Henderson.
Apartments off campus have rules just like Southern does said Henderson.
Residents possibly wouldn’t be able to paint or drill holes in the wall even if they lived off campus.
DeMezzo said he’s comfortable with the current policies, but thinks they need to be continuously reviewed.