I’m sure everyone has received an e-mail by now concerning the new policy change for covered smoke detectors. The new punishment is that if anybody, after being given a warning, is found with a covered smoke detector in any way, shape or form, that individual can get kicked out of campus housing and is left basically homeless.

Honestly, I find these policies to be a little over the top and the punishment unfitting of the crime. I think this is largely a freak out on the part of the administration when they found how many students take a very liberal view of the University’s fire policy.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone on this campus covers their smoke detectors due to unlawful activities. Some people merely want to decorate the prison cell-esque rooms we are assigned into more cozy habitats to live in. This might mean that tapestries are hung under the fire alarms, not intentionally, but because the location of the fire alarm in the ceiling makes it so it is impossible to hang them any other way.

Our lives are depressing enough as it is with the piles of work that are heavy weights on our shoulders throughout the week. To come back to our rooms that are equally as bleak in this depressingly dark and cold weather really makes us doubt if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s be honest. Even though the fire hazard policy has been here since the dawn of time, how many students follow those rules? It seems that everywhere, even in the rooms of dorms that have windows facing very open and exposed views of campus, you can see octopus lamps, hanging lights, tapestries and posters galore, which is definitely not following the ‘not-more-than-20-percent-of-your-wall-covered’ rule. However when pointing the proverbial finger at who is to blame for these rules, of course the University is not to blame since it is just covering its behind by enabling all these safety rules. God knows, you wouldn’t want to be responsible for some hefty lawsuit brought upon by an enraged parent of a child who was hurt in some fire caused by fire hazards.

However, what harm can a flame-resistant tapestry hanging from a ceiling tile, or some hanging lights with flame-resistant paper really do to set fire to an entire building? If anything, the carelessness of people leaving on their electric stoves, or putting clothes on top of hot lamps is more at fault for causing a reasonable fire than some measly fireproof decorations in a dorm room.

As for the fire alarms, half of the time they do not work anyway, and they are pretty awful excuses for fire alarms, going off at random times – especially when they are filled with too much dust. Even if we do cover these alarms, it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to how they work anyway.

I’m not saying that the school should do away with the fire hazards policy completely, or that dangerous flammable objects are acceptable to put up in rooms. I’m just saying that maybe instead of putting more restraints on the students and increasing the severity of the punishment, perhaps the University should revise the list of acceptable items, especially if the materials are fire resistant.

After a hard day of classes, there’s nothing better than coming home to a cozy room instead of seeing the austere white of the cement walls and getting barraged by the harsh fluorescent lights of the lamps that surround us.

Jung is a member of
the class of 2011.

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