Is unauthorized classroom crackdown necessary?

Students have been using empty classrooms and lecture halls over the past few years after classes for the day. Now the university has started to crack down. (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Over the past few years a large number of students have been using classrooms and lecture halls to watch movies or study after classes are done for the day. However, UConn has begun implementing steps to limit what the administration views as inappropriate usage of academic facilities. Because the classrooms have valuable technology that can be broken, the University controls and monitors them.  University Information Technology Services (UITS) receives a notification any time someone logs into the system after it automatically shuts down at 11 p.m. and is beginning to remotely shut it off if this is the case. If students do not leave after this happens, UITS will ask them to leave over the speaker system.

The University announced they will be enforcing these policies more stringently as a result of several instances where items were broken or the rooms were left disorganized with trash strewn about. While they acknowledge that the majority of students have harmless motives for using classrooms, it is still against university policy to use classrooms for anything other than academic purposes or authorized club reservations.

The question is whether students should be allowed to use classrooms for non-educational purposes, and whether the infractions that have occurred justify a policy preventing students using classrooms for anything except studying. Disregarding damages, there seems no reason that students should not be able to use classrooms for what UConn has admitted is harmless purposes. There does not appear to be evidence of students trying to drink and party in these empty rooms. If there is no one using these rooms, it seems like a waste to ban students who just want a secluded place to relax with some friends.

Of course, some of the damages inflicted have to be taken into account. Leaving trash out or leaving the room disorganized is irresponsible but not grounds for this crackdown. That leaves broken items or equipment. The administration has only specified that a few items have been broken over the course of two years. It is not clear that this warrants the actions taken by UConn. Ideally, some sort of compromise can be worked out between the administration and students where students would be able to use classrooms if they are responsible. Empty classrooms are a nice resource for relaxing with friends or studying in a quiet location. If students commit to maintaining classrooms how they find them, then the University should be willing to allow them to use them.