Search Policy

Lycoming College respects the privacy of members of the college community. However, the College reserves the right to conduct searches if reasonable cause exists to believe that:

  1. Activity is taking place in a student's room or on College premises which is detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of individuals or the community; or
  2. Substances or objects that are contained in the room or on the property of the College, or on a person, which would constitute a violation of the Code of Conduct. 

The search process includes physical examination of the area(s) and/or personal belongings. Determination of what constitutes "a reasonable cause to believe" that a search is necessary will be made by the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Residential Life, Director of Safety and Security or a designee.

Reasonable effort will be made to ensure that the student whose room or property is being searched is present. If not present, the student will be notified in writing of the search and its outcome. 

Room Entry and Search & Confiscation Procedures:

Students can expect to have a reasonable degree of privacy in their residential spaces and in the community at large.  However, when circumstances warrant, Lycoming College staff are authorized to enter a student's room utilizing a master key.  Circumstances warranting entry relate to safety, security, health, legal, or campus student conduct, or general well being concerns.  Students are expected to cooperate with those conducting a search and/or carrying out their duties associated with room entry.  Reasonable effort will be made to ensure that the student whose room or property; e.g. suitcases, boxes, locker, car, contents of dressers and desks, pockets of clothing, closets, etc., being searched is present.  If not present, the student will be notified in writing of the search and its outcome.  The specific conditions under which room entry and/or search and seizure may occur are:

1. Room Entry for Safety and Maintenance Inspections, Reviews, or Repairs:  Over the course of the academic year, authorized College staff (Residential Life, Safety and Security, Buildings and Grounds, or designee) are permitted to enter residence hall rooms during scheduled fire, health and safety inspections, emergency evacuations and fire drills, and for reasons related to general safety and/or repairs.

2. Room Entry for Emergencies:  College staff (Residential Life, Safety and Security, Buildings and Grounds, or designee) may enter a student's room without permission in response to attemped or suspected suicide, fire, significant physical injury, medical emergency, or situations where there is a potential or actual threat to the security, health, or welfare of the resident(s) of the residential space or surrounding community.

3.  Plain View Search:  Prohibited, illegal, or stolen items, materials, substances, or possessions that are in plain view and encountered by staff during the normal execution of their duties - within or beyond the confines of a residence hall room or apartment common area or room - may be confiscated and used as evidence in a College student conduct and/or legal proceeding.  If a violation is suspected or observed in a room with the resident(s) and/or guest(s)  present, a College staff member can conduct a plain view search in order to determine if prohibited, illegal or stolen items, materials, substances, or possessions are present.  During such searches, College staff are limited to observing and confiscating what is only in plain view, and cannot open drawers, closets, closed doors, refrigerators, or any sealed area or property owned by the student(s).  However, the student(s) can voluntarily open any closed area or personal belongings for plain view inspection during the course of the search.  Plain view searches can also be conducted in the absence of the resident(s) in accordance with the procedures outlined above.  (Note:  After a plain view search, staff may request to conduct a full search of the room or property).

4. Voluntary Search:  Students have the option of providing verbal consent to have their room or personal area(s) searched by College staff when there is reasonable cause to believe they are in possession of prohibited, illegal or stolen items, materials, substances or possessions, or aware of or involved in a violation that is criminal in nature.  Any confiscated items/materials may be used in a student conduct and/or legal proceeding. 

5. Involuntary Search:  When there is reasonable cause to believe that a student is in possession of prohibited, illegal or stolen items, materials, or substances, or has knowledge of or involvement with a violation that is criminal in nature, College staff may request to search.  Determination of what constitues "a reasonable cause to believe" that a search is necessary will be made by the Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Residential Life, Director of Safety and Security, or a designee.  Any confiscated items/materials may be used in a student conduct and/or legal proceeding.

If a student(s) does not permit College staff to conduct a search, College staff will inform the student(s) that local law enforcement may be contacted and an involuntary search conducted.