Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1950 No. 359 - October 04, 1950
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Board of Trustees of Eastern Washington College of Education has the power within their discretion to adopt and enforce such reasonable regulations as would require residence of its students in such residence halls on the campus of the institution.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 October 4, 1950

Honorable Walter W. Isle, President
Eastern Washington College of Education
Cheney, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 359

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of September 27, 1950, in which you ask the following question:

            May the Eastern Washington College of Education adopt rules and regulations which will require residence of its students in campus halls?

            The conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            The Trustees of the Eastern Washington College of Education may adopt such reasonable regulations.


            Your letter reads in part:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "In recent contracts and agreements with purchasers of bonds to provide funds for the construction of a residence hall on the campus of Eastern Washington College of Education, a provision was included which obligated the College to establish such parietal rules as would insure full occupancy of this hall and other halls of residence on the campus whose income was pledged to the retirement of the bonds.  The question has arisen as to whether or not the College has the authority as a state institution to require residence of its students in campus halls.  * * *"

            The Eastern Washington College of Education was formerly known as The State Normal School at Cheney, the present name and classification having been given by chapter 23, Laws of 1937, (4604-1 to 3 Rem. Rev. Stat.).

            Chapter 97, Laws of 1909, page 251, section 2, (4605 Rem. Rev. Stat.), provides for the appointment of trustees of the State Normal Schools.  Chapter 97, Laws of 1909, page 252, section 3, (4606 Rem. Rev. Stat.), provides in part:

            "* * * Each board shall have power to adopt bylaws for its government and for the government of the school, which by-laws shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this act, and to prescribe the duties of its officers, committees and employees.  * * *"

            Chapter 97, Laws of 1909, page 252, section 5, (4608 Rem. Rev. Stat.), provides:

            "Each board of normal school trustees shall have power to establish and maintain a boardinghouse or houses for the accommodation of students, to employ a matron and such other assistance as may become necessary to conduct the same, to make such rules for its government and management as  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] they may deem necessary, and to charge such rates for board and entertainment as will make such boarding-house or houses self-sustaining."

            In 55 Am.Jur., page 7, section 8, it is said:

            "Where a university is a public institution and body corporate, it is, like other public corporations, subject to legislative control.  Accordingly, it is sometimes considered that the trustees of state universities are merely instruments to carry out the will of the legislature in regard to the educational institutions of the state, both the institutions and the trustees being under the absolute control of the legislature."

            The general rule as to the power of trustees of public institutions and colleges is stated in 55 Am.Jur., page 13, section 19, as follows:

            "Since public universities and colleges are subject to the control of the legislature, the right of that body to legislate for their welfare, to enact measures for their discipline, and to impose upon the trustees thereof the duty of enforcing these requirements is undoubted.  However, where the power is delegated to them to do so, university and college authorities may make all necessary and proper rules and regulations for the orderly management of the institution and the preservation of discipline therein, and rules enacted in the exercise of a power so delegated by statute are of the same force as would be a like enactment of the legislature, and their official interpretation by the university authorities is a part thereof.  In the case of a private institution, the right to adopt suitable rules and regulations for the government and management of the school and to enforce them  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] reasonably for the purpose contemplated, but not maliciously or arbitrarily, seems beyond question.  In either case, whether the rules or regulations are wise or expedient or their aims worthy is a matter left solely to the discretion of the authorities, and with the exercise of such discretion the courts will not interfere, in the absence of a clear showing that the authorities have acted arbitrarily or have abused the authority vested in them.  Every student on his admission impliedly promises to submit to and be governed by all the necessary and proper rules and regulations which have been or may be adopted for the government of the institution, although rules and regulations may be annulled by the courts when found to be unauthorized, against common right, or palpably unreasonable."

            We have here an instance where the legislature has first granted broad rule making powers to the trustees in section 4606, supra, and where they have also granted power to the trustees to make rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of such boarding house or houses as may be maintained by the trustees for the accommodation of the students, 4608, supra.  While power to pass such a rule or regulation as you mentioned possibly is not directly given by the legislative acts above cited, we believe that power to adopt such resolution must necessarily be implied from the powers granted.  Our views are perhaps best stated in the case of State ex rel. Priest v. The Regents of the University of Wisconsin, 54 Wis. 159, 11 N.W. 472, as follows:

            "The board is a creature of law, and hence cannot rise above the law, nor be a law unto themselves, in matters outside of the scope of the powers granted to them.  But this does not mean that it can do no act except such as is specifically mentioned in the statute.  It would be altogether  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] impracticable to prescribe by statute the numerous and varying duties of such board.  Much must necessarily be implied from the character and objects of the corporation, the nature of the trust imposed, and the general powers granted."

            InGott v. Berea College, 156 Ky. 376, 161 S.W. 204, which involved a private college and not a public institution like the Eastern Washington College of Education, the court held in substance that university and college authorities stand in loco parentis concerning the physical and moral welfare and mental training of the students, and to that end may make any rule or regulation for their government or betterment that a parent could make for the same purpose.  The court directly sustained a rule forbidding students of the college to patronize restaurants not controlled by the college as not being an unreasonable rule, where board and lodging were provided by the college.

            We have no Washington case directly in point.  Our Supreme Court, however, has held that the board of directors of a certain school district had the power to make and enforce rules forbidding pupils in the public schools of such district from joining secret fraternal societies.  Wayland v. Hughes, et al., 43 Wash. 441, 86 Pac. 642.  This case involved the public schools as distinguished from the normal schools, now the Colleges of Education, and therefore, is not direct authority herein.

            It is our opinion that the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Washington College of Education would have the power within their discretion to adopt and enforce such reasonable rules and regulations as would require residence of its students in such residence halls on the campus as the board might prescribe.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo