Veronica With Four Eyes

What If I Get A Housing Violation?

When I was living in on-campus dorms in college, I received a housing violation that later spiraled into a student conduct violation because I didn’t fix it within the window of when it was issued. This wasn’t intentional, as I had no idea I had even been issued a violation, but thankfully I was able to get it fixed quickly and without losing my housing assignment. Here is the story of how I got a housing violation and student conduct referral in college, and how I was able to fix it without repercussions.

It all started with room inspections

By state law, all dorm rooms have to be inspected at least once a semester to check for health and safety violations. Students are notified about these routine inspections at least one week in advance as there are signs posted on the doors of the building, but I didn’t notice these due to my visual impairment. Luckily, in the time since this incident took place, students now also receive email notifications for when inspections will take place. At my college, students are notified of which days inspections will take place, but the exact for each room is random, and students do not have to be present for room inspections.

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A note I never read

While I was in class, my room inspection took place and it was noted that my curtains had not been properly fire treated, and that they needed to be treated every year. As per policy, a note detailing my room inspection was left on my door, but the font was extremely small and difficult to read with my low vision. However, I didn’t even notice the note as it blended right into my wall. I also didn’t notice that there would be another inspection in ten days to see if the violation was fixed. I just assumed everything was fine.

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Ignoring the writing on the wall and the blindness canes next to the door

So the second inspection comes, and I was once again in class and not present. The inspectors came back and saw that my original note had not been moved, and put another note showing the violation hadn’t been fixed on top of it. I’m not sure why they didn’t think to email me or leave a note in large print since my room was filled with large print documents and assistive technology, plus I had four blindness canes next to the door. The second note fell off my door with the first note and somehow ended up inside my closet, which I discovered when I was moving out several months later.

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A referral to student conduct

Since I didn’t see any of the notes that were being left on my wall and the violation wasn’t fixed, I was referred to student conduct by housing for refusing to fix the violation. I found out about this after receiving an email from student conduct informing me of the violation. At first, I thought the email was a scam and sent it to the scam verification service my university has, who confirmed that I had indeed been referred to student conduct and needed to fix the problem as soon as possible. I scheduled a meeting with the person who issued the violation within two days.

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Figuring out what happened

I showed up to the meeting with a copy of the violation from my email, my blindness cane, and my entire curtain rod since I was extremely worried about facing disciplinary consequences for this. Since I had just found out that I also had been dropped from all of my classes due to a registration error (total coincidence), I was trying my best not to lose my mind or my housing as I worked to fix these errors.

I explained to the staff member that I had not been able to see the notes on my door because they blended into my wall. They then showed me an example of what the notes look like, and I explained that the font size was too small for me to see and did not magnify enough on my phone to see what the violation was. I was fully prepared to bring my room up to compliance, but I wanted to ensure that I would not get in trouble for not having access to information about my violations in an accessible way.

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Fixing the problem

Honestly, it was harder to get my curtains off the wall than it was to have them fire treated and properly tagged. The issue was resolved quickly and I was able to provide valuable feedback about how students should be notified of violations, which included sending email or digital reports of inspection results. Since I resolved the problem quickly, the violation was removed from my record and I didn’t have to worry about any more issues with student conduct. I was extremely happy about this and grateful that my feedback was taken to heart, as inspection reports are now made available in a digital format.

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More tips on handling college housing violations

  • Another resource for handling accessibility issues for housing is the state protection and advocacy organization, which can provide free legal help and assist with getting issues resolved. I wrote about my experience with Virginia’s organization in My Experience With Disability Law Center of Virginia
  • Some colleges require students to fire treat curtains every year, while others only require one treatment for the time that they live on campus. Students are not allowed to fire treat curtains themselves
  • From start to finish, this situation was resolved in about 72 hours, from  the time I received the email to when the violation was removed from my record

What If I Get A Housing Violation? One time, I got a housing violation because I didn't properly fire treat curtains and I didn't know about it. Here's how I fixed it