College conducts health and safety checks across campus

Colby students received an email last week from Campus Life informing them that their rooms would undergo health and safety checks. Starting the week of Nov. 4 and lasting until Nov. 15, students can expect a pair of Colby employees to come into their rooms to conduct a wellness examination. 

In the spring of 2019, the Dean of Students, Campus Life, and Facilities decided to introduce health and safety room checks in an attempt to combat costly dorm damage.

“There was a need to make sure facilities were optimal for everyone to live in,” Director of Campus Life Jess Manno explained in an interview with the Echo. Manno also revealed that dorm damage in common spaces averages between $70-$80 thousand a year, and over $200 thousand when including damage to individual rooms. The funds to fix the wreckage has come from Facilities’ budget. Manno also expressed Facilities’ frustration with having to spend a bulk of its budget on maintaining the existing condition of the dorms rather than focusing on upgrading the furniture and rooms.

There is no particular order to which buildings will be checked first, so students will not be given further notice prior to their rooms being checked. The inspectors will leave a slip of paper in each room to inform the residents of the inspection’s results after its completion. Each team of inspectors will be comprised of employees from Campus Life, Safety and Security, Facilities, or Athletics. Each has gone through specialized training conducted by Campus Life. The inspectors have been instructed to knock three times and introduce themselves. Students do not have to be present for the check, but they should be aware that the checkers will key in to complete the check. 

These inspections are different from the pre-break room checks, where CAs check to make sure lights are off and residents have vacated the room. Instead, the inspectors will be checking for tampered smoke detectors, exposed sprinklers and piping, candles, alcohol and banned substances, and potential fire hazards. They will also look for any visible damages, which includes but is not limited to holes in the wall, graffiti, tampered smoke detectors, and broken window screens. Rooms will also be inspected for cleanliness to ensure there is no excessive trash, food, or bodily waste. The entire process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, and the inspectors will record their results digitally. 

While there is a scope of factors the inspectors need to check, they are not allowed to touch any of the residents’ belongings. This includes opening any drawers, refrigerators, and windows. The checkers will instructed to keep their visits brief; however, they are allowed to take pictures and document any glaring issues. For security reasons, the door of the room will be locked after the inspection whether or not it was locked upon arrival. Students are reminded to carry their keys with them for the duration of the two weeks. The health and safety room checks will also be performed at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons under the same criteria. 

While these types of precautionary checks are standard for many colleges and universities, not everyone is enthusiastic.

“I do not think room checks are necessary, as they feel like an invasion of students space,” Robin Green `21 contended. “Because we are adults, the college should trust us to live in a productive environment, however we see fit.”

Green also disclosed her disdain for the potential ramifications.

“A lot of the violations found in room checks are simply not dangerous for responsible students, like tapestries and candles, and I feel that to be fined for these minor infractions is very unfair,” she said.

Students with an infraction noted on the health and safety slip left in their room can expect to receive an email from Campus Life with further information. Consequences range from a fine to a hearing with the Student Conduct Board. 

Campus Life has urged students to  reach out with any questions about the inspections.