Most dorm evictions result from drug usage

By Ross Hager
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Twenty-one students have been evicted from residence halls so far this semester, and officials expect the number to increase to 100 by the end of the year.

Of the 21 evictions, 20 were drug related and one was alcohol related. Coronado Residence Hall has had the most evictions this year, with eight residents being evicted, said Jim Van Arsdel, Residence Life director.

During the 2004-2005 school year, Residence Life reported 100 students evicted from their dorms, an increase from the 2003-2004 school year when 41 residents were evicted, Van Arsdel said.

The beginning of the school year is always the worst for students getting evicted, with a half-dozen residents being evicted on average in the first two weeks of the semester and one or two evicted before classes begin, Van Arsdel said.

The evictions are usually drug related, Van Arsdel said.

"People simply aren't thinking," Van Arsdel said. "It's incredibly saddening and frustrating."

Although no single residence hall is responsible for the entirety of evictions, Van Arsdel said, some are worse than others.

Coronado accounted for 21 percent of the evictions last year, while Yavapai and Pima residence halls had no evictions, he said.

This difference is attributed to the number of residents in each dorm, Van Arsdel said.

"Size matters," VanArsdel said. "Coronado has nearly 800 students," whereas Yavapai has 206 residents and Pima has 134 residents.

University of Arizona Police Department officer Frank Romero, crime prevention specialist and hall liaison coordinator, said increased police presence near the dorms could be another contributing factor to the increasing number of evictions.

For the past three to four years, UAPD has been working more closely with Residence Life by training with resident assistants to crack down on alcohol and illegal drugs in the dorms, Romero said.

"A lot of relationships have been built," Romero said. "A lot more people are looking out for things."

Although UAPD is not directly connected to students getting evicted, their investigation fuels the process, Romero said.

Following an incident in the dorms, UAPD sends a code of conduct notice to the Dean of Students Office and if it is serious enough, the crime gets referred to the hall director, Romero said.

Possession, use or distribution of any illegal drug can result in an immediate eviction for a first offense, Van Arsdel said.

The eviction process begins with an incident report being filed within 24 hours of the occurrence. Next, a hearing takes place between the student and the hall director. After the hearing, the student has 48 hours to appeal the decision. If the appeal fails, the student has two to three days to vacate the room.

The entire process usually takes about two weeks, Van Arsdel said.

Residents who are evicted from the dorms are not permitted to visit any university residence hall or apartment complex and are still financially responsible for the cost of the dorm for the entire academic year, Van Arsdel said.

"The process can seem fairly harsh, and it probably is fairly harsh," Van Arsdel said. "But we need that student gone sooner than later."

Karim Sigg, a pre-business freshman, said he thinks Residence Life is too strict with marijuana charges, but feels that alcohol should never be present in the dorms.

Sigg, who is a resident of Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall, said he was already on deferred eviction for an incident involving marijuana earlier this year when he received a citation for being a minor in possession Friday after police found an open beer can on his desk.

Sigg said because he was not actually using marijuana in the dorms, his eviction was deferred barring the completion of an educational assignment. But because of the additional alcohol charge, he found out yesterday that he is now definitely being evicted unless a hall director approves his appeal.

The director of Arizona-Sonora will conduct a meeting with Sigg on Friday to decide whether he can appeal the eviction, Sigg said.

Sigg said he is trying to get the person whose beer can was in his room to come forward.

If he is evicted, Sigg said he has a choice.

"I either have to come up with the money or drop out of school," Sigg said.

Because the UA is supported by the state, there is a reasonable expectation that the university will support state laws, Van Arsdel said.

Along with being consistent with state laws, the university feels that drugs and alcohol are disruptive of the educational process so there must be thresholds.

"The dorms are a community," Van Arsdel said. "And a community will always create boundaries for its own survival."