By Sarah Heaney/Accent Editor
Herman Vickers was feeling homesick last Christmas. A resident of Commonwealth Hall, Vickers got a decorating idea that would make his room feel more like home: a live Christmas tree! He picked out the perfect evergreen, took it up to his room, and lovingly decorated it.
Then end-of-semester room inspections rolled around. Vickers learned from his residential coordinator that his tree was considered a fire hazard and had to be removed immediately. His attempt to creatively decorate his room almost landed him a trip to the judicial affairs.
Admittedly, live Christmas trees aren’t listed in the dorm handbook as a prohibited decoration, but Eastern residential coordinators agree there are several decorating no-no’s that students need to know about.
Marcie Hatfield, residential coordinator for Case Hall, said one of the biggest problems is with adhesive on the walls.
“When students take down posters, the adhesive is really hard to get off the walls,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield also said that contact paper often causes the same problem. Students can decorate their rooms with contact paper, but they must make sure it all comes down at the end of the year.
Another decoration considered a fire hazard are items that hang from the ceiling such as tapestries, posters, blankets and windchimes.
“If the poster is flat against the ceiling, then it’s okay,” Hatfield said.
Jennifer McKnight, Connexions Program community assistant, has worked in residential housing for several years. She said a new campus-wide policy on candles has begun this year.
“Candles with burnt wicks are not allowed in any dorm,” McKnight said.
Last year different dorms had different candle policies.
Joey Sammons, Keene Hall residential coordinator, said with male dorms there are some similar decorating problems.
“Lots of guys hang flags and posters from their ceiling,” Sammons said. “That’s a fire hazard.”
Last year, posters on the outside of room dorms was also considered a fire hazard. Sammons said he believed the policy had changed and posters and decorations can be placed on doors now.
Sammons added that in male dorms students often like to decorate their room with beer cans and liquor bottles. This is against the alcohol policy.
Another decorating dilemma Sammons has had to deal with is controversial flags, like the Confederate flag, hanging in dorm windows.
“It’s not illegal, but it’s controversial and there’s quite a debate about it,” Sammons said.
Sammons said another common problem is when students staple or tape Christmas lights to their ceilings. It looks really nice, but when the time comes to take them down, chunks are pulled out of the ceiling.
Finally, lofts are a popular way of making a room look unique and save space. Lofts need to be approved by the residential staff and then inspected by Public Safety staff once it’s built.
It’s often hard to be creative when transforming your cinderblock cell into a homey living space. Often a cool idea ends up being a fire hazard or other type of violation. When in doubt about any decoration, be sure to consult a residential staff member. It’s better to ask first then have to make the trip down to the judicial affairs office.