Rules tighten in dorm after several incidents

The more than 400 residents of Dillard University’s freshmen coed dormitory, Williams Hall, are under a strict curfew and are forbidden to have guests until further notice following several incidents of vandalism and property defacement in the dorm.

The most recent incident occurred Feb. 28, before the start of midterm week, when a water sprinkler was set off in a dorm room occupied by three male students on the second floor of the three-story building. Some students in rooms below had to move temporarily to the DUALS apartments.

Other confirmed incidents in Williams include four fights, a fire set in a stairwell, the spraying of fire extinguishers, broken windows and exit lights, and defacement of property, such as graffiti on the walls and doors, broken bottles and urine in hallways.

Such incidents are forwarded to the Office of Student Affairs and handled on a case-by-case by Dillard’s judiciary system, campus Assistant Police Chief Dwight Deal said.

A notice taped on the front door and inside the dorm announced the guest ban and curfew policy. Curfew for freshmen students is midnight to 7 a.m. Sunday through Monday and 2-7 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

“It’s kind of ridiculous,” said Kevin Perry, a freshman theater major from New Orleans, referring to the incidents and the cancellation of visitation rights. “The only time something happens is when we have visitors.”

Residential Community Director La’Toya Lewis was contacted several times by phone and email for an interview, but did not respond.

However, Deal said that in the most recent incident, the students in the room claimed to be studying at the time the sprinkler went off. However, the fire department was called to investigate the incident and concluded the incident was not a malfunction, Deal said.

“Likely, some human intervention is to blame,” said Deal.

Although, the incident was not a criminal matter, several students on the floor below had to move out of their rooms. Perry, whose room was not physically damaged, was among them.

“The smell was bad,” said Perry.

“A lot of those incidents are pranks by people who don’t realize the criminal implications,” said Deal. “Where it’s a crime out there [off-campus], here it’s a prank.”

Deal said students often don’t realize beforehand how their actions could harm others.

Campus police have “more of a discretionary area than the local police in that we work in tandem with Student Success and Student Affairs,” said Deal.

Incidents believed to be violations of the student code of conduct are handled on a case-by-case by Dillard’s judiciary system, so long as they don’t involve guns, domestic violence or a sexual assault, Deal said.

According to the student handbook, a review with each implicated student is held, followed by hearings before a board that includes administrators, faculty and students, if required. If the student is found responsible, a sanction may be applied, including campus service, a fine, research assignments on a topic related to the offense, suspension or expulsion. The university may withhold one’s transcript or registration, or even one’s degree until fines or services are rendered.