In a surprising crackdown on wall posters, room inspectors handed a majority of Lanman-Wright Hall residents $100 individual fines last week during routine dormitory checks.
Eugene Wells, who is the supervisor of Saybrook and Trumbull colleges custodial services, conducted the inspections in Lanman-Wright and other dormitories last week, and said the potential for smoking in the rooms made the posters fire hazards. Although inspectors can exercise their own judgment in room checks, some fire officials said that posters in moderation do not constitute fire hazards and speculated that the fines would not stick.
Yale prohibits smoking in all rooms, but Wells said it still occurs and added that he saw students smoking in Lanman Wright entryway E earlier this week.
“I consider all posters to be fire hazards,” he said. “Even though there’s no smoking, people don’t adhere to that rule. If a cigarette would come into contact with a poster, that would cause a fire.”
Pierson College freshman counselor Krishan Soni ’01 said students in most rooms in Lanman-Wright received fines for hanging varied types of unframed posters in their rooms.
“I think they fined almost everyone in Lanman-Wright,” he said. “They’ve never told us posters are illegal. Do you want us to keep our walls completely bare?”
Soni and his roommate both received $100 fines for the lone poster, picturing Bruce Lee, in their room.
Wells fined each occupant of Lanman-Wright room D22 a total of $150 for Christmas lights and posters. Alison Block ’04, a resident of D22, said she protested that no one ever smoked in her room, which has several medium-size posters.
“He [Wells] was like what if someone was smoking, and we said that’s against the rules,” Block said. “And he’s like people break the rules.”
Students can have fines removed by fixing the problems — in this case removing the posters — or appealing the fines to the fire marshal’s office.
Yale Fire Marshal Michael Johns said he did not consider posters to be a fire hazard unless they were in excess.
“It depends on the circumstances,” Johns said. “Some people say ‘I got fined for posters,’ and their entire walls are covered with tapestries and posters. You don’t have to be a fire professional to realize that constitutes a risk. If we’re talking abut one or two posters in an average room that would not represent a significant risk.”
Johns said he never assumes smoking occurs in rooms, but if he were suspicious, he would investigate the matter further. He added that “it’s very possible” that his office would remove the poster fines and that he does not expect students to remove all their posters.
“We’re not looking to establish a fire protection police,” he said.
Although there is no specific regulation preventing students from hanging posters, Wells said the regulations are not comprehensive.
“You might walk into a room and find things that are a fire hazard,” he said. “The sheet doesn’t cover everything.”
Old Campus custodial supervisor Michael Roberts said during inspections he rarely fines for posters unless they cover more than 70 percent of a wall. Explaining that inspectors can only issue potential fines, he speculated that the students would never receive bills for the fines.
But Lanman Wright D21 resident Jessica Reveri ’04 was not taking any chances with her posters.
“I took them down last night because I was scared,” she said.
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