Detector ignites temper

I don’t smoke. It’s too expensive, it’s banned most everywhere and it’s been proven to me to be a pretty nasty habit. So I don’t puff.

So I didn’t really need to worry about setting off the handy little smoke detectors provided in NIU’s residence hall rooms. Or so I thought.

The month was April. The year, 1990. I lived in a single room in one of NIU’s fine buildings of living. One day, after putting in pretty long hours at the paper, I returned and went to bed. Maybe an hour later, my smoke detector began sounding.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard one of these things go, but they’re nasty. They scream. They whine. It’s high-pitched and it’s guaranteed to wake everyone.

Well, I jumped out of bed, fearing a fire. No fire. Smoke, I thought. No smoke. What then? Nothing.

However, the thing continued to holler at me. So I banged on it a couple times and it stopped. It also broke.

Despite my near-slumber state, I knew I needed to tell someone, so I ventured out on the floor to tell my RA. What a crowd! At least ten people had assembled in their various nocturnal wear to see if my room really was ablaze.

My RA was awake, but on the phone. She told me she would file a report the next day. What a relief.

The next day, I found myself sitting in the hall administrator’s office and in a heap o‘ trouble. My smoke detector already had been replaced (at quite a cost, believe you me) and these people were determined I was smoking and got the thing yelling.


Yet so it was. In a few days, I got word from the Student Judicial Office that I was up on charges of criminal damage to state property. Whoah. Included in this friendly although shocking packet was my copy of the Student Judicial Code and my court date and time.

Well, I got a student judicial advocate to come to my aid (luckily, someone I already knew) and trotted off to Neptune Hall for my appearance.

I plead guilty because I had, indeed, caused the detector to break through my manual attack on the thing. But my advocate got the criminal charges dropped because I wasn’t out to break it—just to stop its incessant whining.

So I paid for it. But when the summer came, I also was sent a bill for breaking the mirror on the door. That mirror was only cracked—like lots of residence hall mirrors are—and I didn’t do it. But a long string of letters between my home and NIU did nothing and I paid it.

Money, money, money. Where does it go?

This was the way I left three fairly happy semesters in NIU’s housing system. Not quite a pleasant goodbye. And then came DeKalb apartments…

I won’t dwell on that, however. Let’s just say it started out rocky—then floody—and now is happy, wonderful and awesome. And despite my apartment problems, it’s been a lot better than the halls.

Really, I shouldn’t be so hard on the halls. They were pretty comfortable and there was always plenty of food, but there were plenty of heartaches, too. Ah, where’s my rent check?