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University sets occupancy rule for residence halls

The University setting a maximum occupancy rule for residence hall rooms may seem like a hassle to some students, but it could have ended with much greater consequences.

“Tim Shaal wanted to protect the students, so the fire department doesn’t come in and set a limit,” said Russell Miller, vice president of student concerns for the Resident Student Association. “If the fire department sets a limit and students are caught breaking it students could be charged with a felony.”

In a double room a maximum of six students are allowed, a triple room, a maximum of nine students are allowed and in a suite, a maximum of 12 students are allowed, said Tim Shaal, senior associate director of Residence Life.

The maximum occupancy rule will be going into effect in August 2013, said Sarah Waters, director of residence life, in an email.

Sophomore Austin Graham said, after finding out the possible consequences, the University rule seems fair.

“It shows that the University actually cares,” he said.

Prior to the occupancy rule the University had no set limit for the number of students allowed in a residence hall room, Shaal said.

“We weren’t changing [a prior rule], but we were revising or adding to the handbook,” Miller said.

When deciding on numbers, Shaal said they looked to other universities for ideas.

“We looked to see what other schools were doing and their bench marks by best practice,” he said.

Bench marking by best practice is what other institutions and organizations find to be the best solution to things based on experience and research, Shaal said.

There are two main reasons why the rule was created, Shaal said.

“Number one is safety and number two is the impact it will have on the community,” he said. “It stops large gatherings that cause a disturbance.”

Miller made a presentation at an RSA meeting two weeks prior to Shaal coming in to speak about maximum occupancy.

“We were approached simply because [maximum occupancy] deals with the dorms, and that is what RSA deals with,” he said.

The members of RSA went to each of the hall councils and asked them how they feel about maximum occupancy, Miller said.

“At the next general assembly meeting I asked for general feedback,” he said.

The maximum occupancy rule was voted in favor of by RSA with 21 voting yes, 14 voting no and two abstaining, said Brandon Swope, RSA President, in an email.

Miller said when he talks to students about the new rule many have mixed feelings.

“The initial reaction is that people don’t approve,” he said. “After I explain why we are putting it into effect they accept it.”

The rule may be hard to track whether students are following it, Shaal said.

“It’s hard to say — each student has to make the choice themselves,” Shaal said. “I hope they follow it because the students voted in favor.”

Some students feel that the rule will be completely disregarded after being put into effect.

“[Students] don’t care,” Graham said. “If they want to have people over they will.”

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