During the 2014-15 school year, Ball State’s policy on marijuana in the residence halls was explicitly zero-tolerance. 

The student's contract with housing would be canceled and he or she would have to find somewhere else to live. 

But now, students found with marijuana in residence halls may be getting a second chance to save their housing contracts.

The University’s drug policy can be found here.

The addendum for Housing and Residence Life is here.

"Until this year, the penalty for drug violation was cancelation of the housing and dining contract plus associated penalties,” said university spokesperson Joan Todd.

For minor marijuana violations, Todd said students may be relocated out of their current hall, placed on disciplinary probation and assigned a drug education course and behavioral assessment. Although students are responsible for paying $250 to complete the courses, violators may still be allowed to stay in on-campus housing.

Alan Hargrave, associate vice president and director of housing and residence life, was not so unequivocal on the change, however.

“The policy has not changed, nor the wording of the information distributed to students,” Hargrave said. “Cancelation of the room and board contract is still a possibility depending upon the student’s prior disciplinary record, the kind of drugs/paraphernalia found, etc.”

After a student is connected to the discovery of marijuana, penalties are based upon the circumstances of the incident and prior disciplinary issues, Hargrave said. For any case, further action and any repercussions are at the discretion of the hearing officer or board.

“Our hearing officers and boards always strive to be fair and make decisions based upon the information gathered during the incident as well as the hearing,” Hargrave said. 

Michael Gillilan, director of student rights and community standards, echoed Hargrave in saying that there is no new policy regarding marijuana in the residence halls.

“I would not call that a policy change,” Gillian said. “That is a procedural change and simply creates options. You will note that the language still allows for discretion in responding to violations.”

Gillian also said it’s important to note that university policy still states that illegal drugs, including marijuana, remain “disallowed and are not tolerated.”

With or without the possibility for leniency, Dillon Eaton will never be allowed to live in a residence hall again. The sophomore psychology major was caught with what he said was “a small amount” of marijuana in his dorm room last year and he’s since been permanently removed from campus housing.

“It was my first incident with any marijuana in the residence hall,” Eaton said. “I knew I could get in trouble for it, but I had no idea that so many things—so many stressful things—were going to happen as a result.”

After Eaton was found with marijuana in his room in LaFollette Complex, he was forced to move off campus within three weeks.

“I had a meeting with the resident coordinator, and the end result was that my housing contract was canceled and I had to leave the residence hall pretty much immediately,” Eaton said. “I wanted to appeal, but my request did not go through and I couldn’t fight it any further after that—I had to leave.”

The incident happened during February 2015, and Eaton said trying to find new housing during the middle of the semester was not an easy task. Before he could find an apartment, Eaton said he was forced to sleep on the floors in his friend’s houses.

“I never expected that I would be living on my own in an apartment at 19,” Eaton said. “I’m not just trying to focus on getting through school anymore. I’m focused on so many different things, and finances is probably the biggest thing I’m trying to work out.”

Because he was on the premium plan before the incident occurred, Eaton said he still has to pay the housing costs for the Spring 2015 semester and the entire 2015-16 school year. In addition to the move off-campus, the added financial stress has been a burden, Eaton said.

Had Eaton been given the possibility to stay on-campus, even with relocation and fines, he said he would have gladly “jumped through the hoops” to stay in the residence halls.

“There is so much convenience and so much to be gained from living on-campus,” he said. “I would love to be in the dorms still, I really would. But one mistake ruined all of that for me.

“I guess it’s fine now—it made me more mature. But I think the biggest thing is that I made a mistake and I did something irresponsible, but it’s really had a huge negative impact on my life," Eaton said. "It has not been easy, and I don’t know if it ever will be while I’m still at Ball State.”