(PHOTO CREDIT : MCT CAMPUS)
Power strips are commonly used, but can pose a fire hazard. (PHOTO CREDIT : MCT CAMPUS)

“No residents shall have or harbor pets or other wild or domestic animals in the residence halls. Pet paraphernalia, equipment, supplies and food are also prohibited. Exception: Not more than one aquarium (fish tank) of 10 gallons or less per room will be permitted. No flesh eating fish such as piranha are allowed.”- Stony Brook Terms of Occupancy.

Last week, I was recently convicted of violating the University Residence Student Conduct Code. And as considerate and lovely as it was for my Residence Hall Director to provide me with a “welcome back” epistle (I’m unquestionably her favorite resident; she even penned her name and everything), I’m not exactly sure how to explain to her that a Disciplinary Hearing is not my optimal choice for a coming-home present.

When I was charged with the infraction, I surmised it had something to do with their pet policy. My roommates and I have been hosting a panoply (or indeed network) of surge protectors, power cords, splitters, plug strips (all more or less the same device) entwined together. The resulting product takes the demeanor of a malformed, rabid and unforgiving animal; we have essentially created Frankenstein’s monster. This burrowed behemoth has practically become a part of the family—it would be cruel to split up the team.

Students (and I say students because they are usually the most desperate and unstable among the rest of the population) commonly refer to as “daisy-chaining”- or my favorite, the Power Bar Recipe.  If I had at least one guilty pleasure (and I have many), it would be the art of the daisy chain—it is fast, simple, gorgeous and capable of resembling a disturbing companion. The guilt, however, stems from the fact that it is an insanely moronic idea to assemble such a beast. The hazard is that one would trip the circuit breaker if you draw too much of a current. The risk of a fire would occur if there were a faulty circuit breaker and could even overheat the power unit. If every inhabitant decided to take up daisy chaining, the entire building could lose power.

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While accumulation of unauthorized appliances may not be the wisest or even healthiest habit to adopt­—it is certainly a sensible endeavor when confronted with the increasingly daunting responsibilities of college life – or what I like to call unarmed combat.  A few surge protectors hugging each other is an imprudence that I’m willing to risk; this is only due to the fact that in committing such a violation, in some small, insignificant way, my life has become ever so slightly daring. It is a beautiful recklessness that I am comfortable with.  And I’m not the only one who feels this way- most people find it amusing. In fact, a joke incorporated into my freshman orientation tour was how to conceal your panini press (we disguised ours to look like another roommate).  Not to mention an entire box of letters from the Department of Residential Programs were dispatched through our building last week.

The Undergraduate Terms of Occupancy document of security regulations has turned into the suggested shopping list for every residing student. The items prohibited, such as (not limited to) irons, air conditioners, space heaters, halogen lamps, toaster ovens, any cooking appliance, weights above twenty pounds, natural Christmas trees, holiday string lights, candles and incense will sojourn in Stony Brook Residence Halls. Upon reading the safety guidelines, it is an instantaneous, tantalizing offer to mock and discredit any caveats provided by your Residence Hall Directives. Perhaps this refractory attitude stems from a distaste of the sanctimonious mien many of the Residence Assistants desperately hold onto.

And yet, the question remains: How can Campus Residences encourage students to take safety procedures seriously? One suggestion might be to reconsider the phrase “flesh-eating fish”.

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