The costs of higher education cover a lot more than
professors’ salaries, including the residence halls in which
students dwell. The University offers extra rights for those paying
up to $6,000 for housing. Those living in the residence halls also
have the right to a good time, provided that it does not interfere
with the safety of others or the rules of the University or the
The thought of venturing outside the dorm for a party,
especially in the chilly Michigan winter, can often seem daunting.
Consequently, some may opt for a small social gathering within
dormitory quarters. Most, however, are unaware of their revelry
rights when still inside the dorms.
All University residence halls are designated substance-free
housing. This blanket rule includes alcohol and cigarettes in
addition to illegal substances. The Department of Public
Safety’s Housing Security officers are on-duty in all major
residence halls from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. These officers should
not be confused with University Police, another department of DPS.
Housing Security officers patrol halls and respond to calls from
Residence Hall staff or other students. “Our main role is
safety, not trying to get students in trouble,” said Officer
Housing Security officers cannot issue minor-in-possession
tickets or open room doors unless there is at least a reasonable
doubt that felonious activity is present. If the door is open, a
Housing Security officer can act on any alcohol or drugs in plain
view. University Police will be called if any illegal substances,
including alcohol consumed by minors, are visible. Students should
realize that they may face non-compliance charges for refusing to
answer the door.
The punishment for noncompliance rests in the hands of Hall
Directors and Assistant Hall Directors. “If students do
comply, we generally write a pretty good report and the
consequences are less severe,” Resident Advisor Kevin Zurawel
said. Though most calls to RAs or Hall Directors are for noise,
those violations are less severe than those for alcohol or
If a student vomits or becomes unconscious as a result of
alcohol consumption, Housing Security is required to call an
ambulance and report the suspected cause. Most often, a University
Police officer will accompany the ambulance and will probably issue
For a 21-year-old living in the dorms, the rules change.
Students of drinking age are allowed six to 12 cans of beer or one
80-proof fifth of liquor in their rooms. They cannot, however,
allow minors in their room when there is open alcohol nor can they
purchase alcohol for minors. The University Police handle both
offenses, not Residence Staff or Housing Security.
Once students move to off-campus housing they are no longer
protected by the Residence Staff “warnings” or the
watchful eye of Housing Security. Rather, party hosts living
off-campus are under the sole jurisdiction of the Ann Arbor Police
The most common crime committed at house parties is volume. A
noise violation, when nighttime activity disturbs neighbors, will
surely bring an AAPD officer to the house, as will houses that
cannot contain their guests. “Once kids start overflowing and
blocking the street, it becomes an issue of public safety, and we
won’t wait for a neighbor’s call,” Sgt. Craig
As in the dorms, owners do not have to open the door for the
police. Once off-campus though, it takes a mere half hour for the
AAPD to acquire a search warrant and enter with force. A search
warrant also gives police the authority to remove all instruments
creating noise, including televisions and complete stereo systems.
These items are not returned to the owner until after the court
decision, which generally takes 30 to 90 days. “There’s
no hard and set rule that a ticket has to be issued, but it works
as a pretty good education to enforce it,” Flocken said.
“It’s hard to keep track of warnings, so we usually go
with a ticket.”
The police do not have the right to shut down a house party.
That responsibility rests with the owner. Receiving two tickets in
one night does not usually bode well in court, so AAPD recommends
that after the first one, the owners shut down for the night. But
police often stop block parties as a matter of public safety.
“The alcohol isn’t the trouble,” said Flocken.
“It’s the people who draw the police.” If police
have reason to believe that someone is younger than 21, even if he
is on the owner’s lawn or in the house, they can ask for
identification, which can lead to an MIP. If a student is walking,
he has the right to refuse a preliminary breath test, but a ticket
can still be issued if there is obvious drunkenness or the scent of
alcohol on the breath. Being smart and aware of the circumstances
allows for a positive party experience.