Ask Edgar: Student dorm rights, C'ville summers

The rumored U.Va. dorm search got me nervous, even though I know now it was all a hoax. What rights to privacy do I have while living in a dorm? Can I be subject to unwarranted search and seizure?
Beer Fear*

Dear Fearful Firsty,
As absurd as the hoax dorm raid was, there are important lessons to be learned from it. You do have rights as a student, and you have no obligation to let an unknown individual search your room. In light of the incident, Housing and Residence Life recommended contacting U.Va. police or a residential advisor immediately if someone appears at your door requesting entrance to search your room. University administration needs both reasonable cause and suspicion of a potential health or safety risk in order to be able to search a dorm room, and they are not able to conduct a blanket search of every first-year dorm room.

Finally, even if a verified police officer requests to search your room, he or she needs a warrant to do so. You can refuse the officer entrance and ask that he or she obtain a warrant before entering your room — also known as buying time (to call your parents and lawyer, of course).

I’m signed up to take some classes here in Charlottesville this summer, and don’t really know what to expect. Can you tell me a bit about Charlottesville’s summer scene? Will there be anything to do?
Too Chill in the ‘Ville?*

Dear Chill,
Many students stay on Grounds in the summer to take classes or work in research labs, so the social scene is relatively vibrant even in the summer months. Being in Charlottesville for the summer is like the golden period of the semester before the real work starts; you’re at school with your friends, but you aren’t bogged down with the full brunt of a semester-long workload yet. With only a couple of classes, you will have plenty of time to relax and explore the city. Long hikes, trips to the Farmer’s Market and enjoying the warm summer nights are just a couple of the things you can do to stay busy and happy during your time in Charlottesville.

*Hey E,
This weather is gorgeous, and I’m sad just thinking about having to hole up in the library for finals — not to mention I have three papers due next week. Any way I’ll be able to combine chem elements with the natural elements and get the best of both worlds?
Summer Bummer*

Dear Bummer,
As U.Va. students come out of their winter hibernation, the last thing you want to do is spend hours working inside the library. Luckily, there are plenty of outdoor spaces for you to work on your tan and your three papers at the same time. The Lawn is an ideal location, as long as you don’t mind dodging Frisbees. Bring a blanket to avoid itchy grass. Although considerably less comfortable, the stone stadium seating of the amphitheater is another of the more popular outdoor study spaces. If you’re looking for a place more off the beaten path, there is a seating area outside Newcomb, and almost all of the Pavilion gardens have benches. If all else fails, first-years always have the quad.
Suns out, guns — and books — out,

related stories