A new perspective: Plug converter sparks safety violation woes

By Angelique Lee

During Fire Safety Week, two RAs came to my room and inspected it. I had no other violations except for a “one-prong extension cord,” and the RAs even told me that I had nothing to worry about. They confiscated it, and I believed that everything was fine. Two weeks later, on Nov. 6, I received an e-mail saying that I was involved in an incident that violates university policy and that both my roommate and I would have to attend an Administrative Hearing on Nov. 11. What?!

First of all, what they were calling an extension cord, I called a converter, a small plastic object to change a three-prong plug into a two-prong plug. I did not know that Rider considered a converter to be the same thing as an extension cord. When I bought it, the package was clearly labeled “Plug Converter.” If it said “Extension Cord” I would not have bought it. And if Rider did not want me to have it, then The Source should have said that we could not have any extension cords or extra plugs of any kind, including a converter.

Secondly, the form that wrote me up for having the converter did not say whether it was in use or not. I feel that because it was sitting on my dresser, not plugged into anything, that I should not be punished. The truth was, I brought it to Rider but never used it and intended to take it home that weekend. Unfortunately, I never got the chance. But my Residence Director said that she had to assume that it was in use just because the form didn’t say it was not in use, which doesn’t even make sense. Whatever happened to “Innocent until proven guilty?” I feel that this new information that I told her should be brought into consideration.

Thirdly, I think that the fine is unnecessary. As I said before, the converter was not in use. Also, since I am a freshman, and this is my first offense of any kind, I feel that a warning would do, especially since the RAs now hold the violating object in question. Clearly, I will not be using it again, and will definitely not be bringing another converter to Rider University in my future years here.

At this hearing, I was told that I had to pay a $25 fine. I appealed, because I’m not paying for something as ridiculous as this. Luckily, my strongly-worded letter allowed the Appeals Board to see things my way, and I do not have to pay the fine. I feel that it is too extreme and that the information I brought to my hearing would shed some light on my situation. As the converter was not in use and was to be taken home that weekend, I don’t think that it is a fire hazard if it is just sitting on my dresser. It’s not like I was going to make it burst into flames or something. And, since The Source did not clearly say that converters are considered extension cords, and the RAs failed to mention that as well, I feel that I should not be held responsible for possessing an object that I did not know was against the rules. In my opinion, a converter should not be interpreted as a “one-prong extension cord.” Converters are made the way they are so that they are not fire hazards and so that they are safe. And the way that I was using my converter was the safest way possible.

Angelique is a freshman elementary education and psychology major.

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