So, every year the fall semester comes around and students who live on their university’s campus must move into their assigned dorm. For those who are returning students, your roommate(s) may be someone you know, however, for those who are freshman and were randomly assigned a roommate for the fall, you may not know what you are signing up for by living with that person.
College university campuses have an undeniably large amount of alcohol and drug violations that coincide with living on campus. It is no surprise that the typical college lifestyle includes underage drinking and the illegal consumption of drugs, particularly marijuana. This lifestyle, although often expected of a college student, is not necessarily preferred by every college student.
Often times, your roommate or roommates may choose to live a completely different lifestyle than yours in more ways than one. Although your roommate may be a morning person and that may conflict with your lifestyle of being a night owl, a more concerning lifestyle difference involves the choice of whether or not to abide by the student conduct code. If your roommate(s), for example, choses to smoke marijuana in your room without your consent, this is not only a student conduct violation but also a legal matter. The marijuana consumption policies, although may differ by state in terms of legality, are almost always still a violation of the student code.
The reason for that, according to USA Today College, is that most universities maintain federal funding and even though the recreational consumption of marijuana may be legal in your state, it is not legal on the federal level. (http://college.usatoday.com/2016/12/12/recreational-marijuana-legal-in-your-state-not-on-campus/) Therefore, just by the act of your roommate(s) consuming marijuana in your dorm on campus, they have violated a school conduct code as the federal law prohibits recreational marijuana use.
Your college roommate is violating the student conduct code and the law, what does that mean for you?
The first thing that you should do is have a conversation with your roommate(s) and make it clear that you do not agree with their lifestyle habit that violates school policy.
The second thing you can do while having that conversation is suggesting that they do not break any laws in your shared living space, regardless of whether or not you are present. If the violators commit the illegal act outside of your dorm the issue is out of your hands. However, if they are caught by campus police, they may be able to access your dorm to complete a full search of any potential violations including possession of marijuana for example.
The third thing to do is make sure that you are living in the exact living space assigned to you through housing. For example, if you are assigned “Room B, Bed 3” make sure that all of your possessions are in the correct location. If your roommate(s) possesses marijuana in the dorm room, make sure that he or she knows to keep it in their assigned living space as well. Most likely, if a room check is used, those who administer it will know whose space they are searching. However, if it is the case that the violation of marijuana possession is found in a shared living space (i.e. the kitchen or living room), it may be unclear to police or campus administrators who actually is in offense of the violation. In that case, if the police are involved, request a drug test, which will make it clear who is the one in violation based on the marijuana being in their system and not yours.
The fourth thing you can do is simply request to switch rooms. A room change request is often available to students a few weeks into the semester. You can apply for a room swap without informing your current roommate, the choice is yours. If you are an upperclassman it is likely that your roommate(s) you have trouble with may be someone you know and are friends with. That makes this process trickier. I would suggest being as honest as possible to them in that situation and try not to make them feel judged. If this person gets offended by your choice to move out, the friendship may be threatened.
Best of luck to anyone struggling with a problematic roommate, especially one who violates the code of student conduct. I urge you to follow my advice in navigating the 4 steps you can take to hopefully remove yourself from any situation where you may be guilty by association.
Remember, we are college students who all intend on seeking a job one day and having a student conduct violation on your record may hinder your opportunities, so don’t worry about hurting your roommate(s) feelings and focus on yourself and your future!
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.