Safety
Search and Seizure

Search and Seizure

Emergency situations do occur on campus and, in those instances, appropriate officials may conduct necessary warrantless searches. Normal inspections of student rooms for health and safety, and standard of maintenance, are obviously within the authority of College officials; warrants need not be obtained for these types of inspections. Evidence found as a result of either of these types of searches may be used against the student in a campus hearing. College officials are not obligated to close their eyes when they encounter evidence that is in "plain view." Such evidence may be seized and introduced to a campus hearing. Students, as any other citizens, are protected by the Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure. If, however, there is "reasonable cause to believe" that College regulations or laws are being violated, a search may be considered reasonable. The reasonableness of a search can be determined only by an examination of the facts in each case. The warrantless search of a student's room by College officials has been upheld by the courts where such action was a reasonable exercise of the College's duty to maintain discipline and an "educational atmosphere." However, the authority to conduct such a reasonable search may not be transferred from College administrators to civil authorities. Civil authorities must conform to the standards of the Fourth Amendment - present "probable cause" and obtain a search warrant.