The University of Kentucky (Lexington) is reportedly investigating an incident that is captured on a YouTube video where police force their way into a student’s dorm room in search of alcohol after a report of alcohol being dumped from the window. The student is told that he could be expelled and that they do not need a warrant to enter the room. Indeed, one officer is heard saying that “there is no fourth amendment.” One officer has been terminated, but notably the university says that it was not due to the entry into the room.
The officers cite “administrative rights” in entering the room and, in response to questions from the student about threatening to get him “kicked out,” that
Instead, one officer invoked “administrative rights” to enter the room and “we don’t have to explain anything to you son.” In the video below, the student is heard cursing at the officers and frankly being rather obnoxious. However, the officer is also telling him not to bother paying his tuition next term.
Here is the university rule:
Room Entry Policy
Authorized university personnel may enter a student’s residence hall room without permission for the following reasons:
To provide routine maintenance
To provide routine inspections to ensure that residents are following health, fire, and safety regulations
To respond to emergency situations; e.g., situations which threaten the health and/or safety of room occupants, and situations which require immediate maintenance to prevent property damage or immediate action to correct the health, fire and/or safety risk
When there is reason to believe that a violation of university policy is taking place in the room and occupants in the room do not open the door when requested to do so.
Authorization to enter a student’s room under this policy does not constitute authorization to conduct a search of the room.
It is an interesting rule since you are allowed entry to look for things but it does not constitute authorization for a search. That seems a bit contradictory in defining the rights of the occupant. THe entry is not being cited as the reason for the termination of the officer who was found to be “in violation of a number of university employment policies.”
Students often complain about the actions of university police at private universities who are not state actors and are not subject to the fourth amendment restrictions imposed on state and federal police. There can be state action elements for a public university like Kentucky. There has been a long complaint that police use that status to acquire evidence through campus police that could not be obtained without a warrant for an actual police search.
Throwing something out a window would obviously raise public safety issues. However, the student describes campus police looking in the refrigerator and it is hard to see how you can investigate the story without a search of the room. Where should the university draw the line in your view?
Source: Campus Reform