New room check policy

Residential Life announced in an email on Aug. 26 a new room check policy which was a decision made due to safety reasons.

Chloe Kucera and Lydia Meier

This year Residential Life (Res Life) will conduct random, unannounced room checks on all student residential housing. The policy change comes as a response to an increase in unapproved and potentially dangerous items in the dorms, Res Life says. This marks a change from long standing practice of scheduled checks.

With the new year in full swing, many students have moved into the Hamline dormitories and apartments. 

These spaces will become a home to many, as they spend time studying, having friends over or hanging out. As students work to make their dorm or apartment feel more comfortable, they may bring personable items to do so, and not all these items may be safe to have. 

In recent years, Res Life has noticed an uptick in sneaking in pets and flammable objects.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of candles and incense and other flammable items that students have been burning and leaving unattended,” Director of Residential Life, Yolanda Armstrong said in the email to residents. 

Not all students are comfortable with this policy decision. 

“It breaches on my personal space,” junior Taylor Lander, a resident of the Hamline apartments said. “It feels a little bit like we aren’t in control of who comes in and out of our apartment.”

Students are often aware of the potential dangers that bringing in unapproved items can cause. Senior Tessa Stukey who lives in the Hamline dorms said she does not mind room checks. 

“I know people like to burn candles…and I can understand the hazard that that might cause,” Stukey said. “Honestly [the policy doesn’t] really bother me. I feel like if you’re following the rules you shouldn’t really be bothered by them.” 

Res Life staff understand residents’ discomfort and want them to know that their belongings won’t be rifled through. 

Chetha Ny

“I don’t want my residents to feel uncomfortable about it, but it’s also something for the general safety of everyone,” said an RA who wishes to remain anonymous.  “We’re not going to be like going through people’s drawers…it’s really just like a walk around.”

Armstrong wants the students to know that their safety is her priority. 

“I can understand absolutely students feeling up in arms about not knowing when it’s going to happen,” Armstong said. ”Never have we ever opened people’s drawers, never have we gone into medicine cabinets…I understand that change is different and can be uncomfortable but as Director of Residential Life, if I didn’t make sure that our policies are being upheld and something were to happen…the ultimate responsibility falls on my shoulders. The expectation is for me to keep the halls safe. I want [students] to understand that we’re going to have to change things because the way it’s been happening has been putting students at risk.”

The process of room checks will be similar to prior years with little change. While the policy change means room checks will be carried out at random times, the actual process of inspecting rooms will be similar to prior years.

These checks will include two RAs and the hall director or area coordinator will have a master key. This individual will knock and if the resident is present, will say: “hi, health and safety,” before looking through the checklist. 

If there are policy violations, action will be taken to remove the object causing the violation. 

Chetha Ny

For example, if a candle was found, a conversation would occur about why it is against policy and if the student wants to take it home, they can at the end of the semester. Any property confiscated during room checks will be held until Winter Break in the fall or End of Year Closedown in spring, according to the email Armstrong sent. 

Armstrong wants students to know that if they have questions, the door to her office is open. 

“If you have a concern…you can shoot me an email…I have an open door policy and I just want people to know that if you have an issue or concern, you can come directly to me, you can go directly to your area coordinator,” Armstrong said. 

Yolanda Armstrong can be contacted at and Res Life can be emailed at