Students punished for off-campus infractions

Earlier this semester, a letter from Dean of Students Ricardo Hall and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely was sent warning University of Miami students of disciplinary measures for negative behavior at off-campus residences.

Littered front yard after a night of partying. Photo Illustration by Brittney Bomnin
Littered front yard after a night of partying. Photo Illustration by Brittney Bomnin

Loud parties that disturb neighbors, run-ins with the local police, fights with a landlord and other forms of disorderly conduct can land UM students in trouble not only with the local authorities but also with the university administration.

Senior Cameron Holmes, who lives off-campus found himself called into Dean Ricardo Hall’s office after a friend’s neighbor complained.

According to Holmes, the neighbor had been upset over loud nights and finding beer cans scattered across the neighborhood the next morning.

“I was at a friend’s house watching a movie and saw the neighbor slow down and write down license plate numbers,” Holmes said.

Holmes’ car was parked in the driveway  at this time. Consequently, he was associated with his friend’s behavior.

“Dean Hall called me in for a meeting; I didn’t get in trouble,” Holmes said. “I was just given a heads up about the rule.”

“The university’s Code of Conduct follows a student no matter where he lives and no matter where he goes,” Tony Lake, the associate dean and director of judicial affairs and dean of students for the university, said. “This isn’t a new approach for us; it’s been this way for quite a while.”

The rule appears in section A.6 of the handbook entitled “Off-Campus Residency.”

“The university does not approve, inspect or supervise off-campus student residences,” the handbook states. “The university does expect, however, that students living off-campus will conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect credit on themselves and the university which includes observing all local, state and federal laws as well as rules and regulations contained in this handbook.”

If a UM student happens to break a law while off-campus, the administration of the university is prepared to take action.

Many students at UM fail to take a hard look at the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook and therefore can miss important rules that affect them, even off-campus.

“I actually never read the student handbook; I don’t know anyone who has. I live at Red Road [Commons] and it’s basically an underage dorm without RAs,” junior and off-campus resident Ramona Cavanagh said.

Neighbors, landlords and mere passersby can contact the university’s administration and file a complaint on any student, whether they live in an apartment or a local home.

Students have mixed opinions about whether the university should be governing student lives off-campus.

“Miami is a private institution, not to mention a good amount of pocket change and for that reason I think students are entitled to be surround by a positive and safe environment,” Cavanagh said. “But at the same time I don’t really think it’s [the university’s] business what I do outside of school.”

Holmes thinks the rule makes sense “in certain situations,” but said the neighbor in his case “was trying to take advantage of the rule.”

“In my opinion, I don’t see how they could deal with it any differently,” Holmes said. “[The administration is] really doing this for the students, to protect the students.”