Banned lamps confiscated over break, upsetting students

On Monday, April 2 Andrew Baker, assistant director of Residence Life spoke at the weekly Inter-Residence Council (IRC) meeting about the confiscation and destruction of five-headed "medusa" lamps over Spring Break. The lamps were banned on the Geneseo campus after they proved to be a fire hazard at SUNY Fredonia, but the move angered many students whose lamps were taken.

Some lamps that were not placed in rooms specified for their storage or removed from the dorm had their cords cut and thrown in a dumpster. Other lamps, however, were stored by Residence Directors in their individual residence halls. Sophomore Jewel Harripaul had her lamp removed from Wyoming Hall over break. After hearing about the ban Harripaul removed the bulbs from her lamp, but after not being informed of the storage rooms left it standing in her room.

"Some Residence Directors (RD) put the lamps in storage rather than allow them to be removed [or] destroyed, and other RDs were indifferent to the situation and I don't think it's acceptable that the fate of one's property is dependent on whether or not your RD can be concerned to contact students," said Harripaul. "The fact is, Residence Life is supposed to be a liaison between students and campus life, and when it came to this entire debacle, Residence Life didn't do their job."

The issue also centered around some students' views that the search was an invasion of privacy. Although e-mails were sent out by Residence Life staff and posters were hung informing students of the ban on the lamps, many were unprepared for a search of their rooms while they were not present. Along with student rooms, staff rooms were also searched in order to rid the campus of the contraband lamps. Baker said that he did not know the complete extent of the search.

Harripaul said she had also placed a note on her lamp stating that the bulbs had been removed and that the lamp was no longer in use. Since her initial understanding that her lamp had been destroyed, Harripaul has discovered that her property is still intact and in the possession of the RD, whom she is waiting to return it to her.

Baker noted the circumstances which proved dangerous at Fredonia. In one instance a lamp was left on for too long and charred a poster that was on the wall next to it. On another occasion, the plastic shade of the lamp melted and began to burn the comforter it was near.

During the IRC meeting the topic of reimbursement for students who had their property destroyed was briefly discussed, but no definitive conclusion was reached.

"At the end of the day, it's only a lamp," said sophomore Gary Cole. "I think that there was a definite disconnect between the administration and the students in the way things were gone about, but I feel safer having these lamps (or at least most of them) which could potentially kill me, destroy my stuff, and kill my friends out of the dorms."