Search & Entry Policies
J33-100 Search Policy
Because a university is viewed as an educational community with special behavioral requirements, the courts have upheld the university’s right to enter and search student rooms and suites with just cause. However, the entry and search must not be done in an arbitrary and capricious manner that unnecessarily deprives a student of fundamental constitutional protection. The university housing staff will also make periodic inspections of students’ rooms and suites for safety and health reasons. Violations observed during routine inspections and/or building evacuations may be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs. The intent of this policy is to provide protection for the rights of each JMU student while at the same time providing staff members and university officials the means to maintain and protect the educational environment necessary for the university to fulfill its primary purpose.
Other Search & Entry policies include the following:
J33-101.1 A staff member may, without verbal or written authorization from a higher authority, enter a student’s room or suite either forcibly or with a building master key in cases of fire, explosion, bomb threats, attempted or suspected suicide, or other situations which call for the immediate entry in the interest of safety and security both for the residents of the room or suite and the physical plant.
J33-101.2 Any unauthorized or illegal items observed in a student’s room or suite during an emergency entry will not be used as a basis for criminal prosecution. However, in the event of suspected vandalism, arson, assault or other violations of major university policy that may have occurred in a room, university police will be called in to conduct an investigation. The results of such an investigation may result in judicial charges or criminal prosecution.
In the case of a known violation of a university policy, a staff member may request permission to make an authorized entry into a student’s room or suite. The request will be made to the appropriate student affairs staff member, who will determine the merits of the request and either approve or disapprove the entry. In cases where the entry is approved, the appropriate student affairs staff member will indicate to the staff member what information to include on the approval form. An authorized entry form will be filled out by the staff that will state exactly which areas may be inspected. The staff member will then notify those residing in the room that authorization has been obtained to enter the room by use of whatever means necessary. When a room or suite is entered by means of an authorized entry, the purpose will be to make a visual inspection of the room. The staff member also may look in the bathroom, in the closet and under the bed. Cabinets, drawers, luggage and other small storage areas will not be searched during an authorized entry. Observed violations may be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs.
When a staff member has reasonable cause to believe that a student has violated a university policy and relevant or prohibited materials remain in his or her room or suite, a request may be made for an authorized entry and search. The request will be directed to the appropriate student affairs staff member, who will then inform the vice president for student affairs and university planning. After considering the request, the vice president for student affairs and university planning may give a written or verbal authorization to conduct an authorized entry and search of a student’s room or suite for specified items. An authorized entry and search form will then be filled out by the appropriate student affairs staff member. A copy of the completed form will be given to the residents of the room or suite if they are present. In the event that the vice president for student affairs is not available, the appropriate student affairs and university planning staff member should contact the director of residence life, who will then contact the president of the university or the designated representative.
In those cases where an individual has personal knowledge or other information of a violation of a criminal nature, such as theft or acts of violence, the individual should contact the university police. The police will determine whether or not sufficient evidence exists to request a search warrant.