Specialist discusses residence hall vandalism

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Earlier this year, The Echo reported that $100,000 of damage due to dormitory vandalism in the residence halls has accumulated over the last four years.  The costs include everything from broken furniture, windows, and walls, to excessive trash dumping, vomit in the bathrooms and torn down exit signs. There has been a lot of discussion about the issue among officials as well as among representatives of the student body, notably the Student Government Association. Although most students are already aware of the heavy financial burden inflicted by damage, little light has been shed on one of the most implicated groups of campus: the custodians. 

Custodian Specialist Lorri Bolduc is the sole custodian in Heights, one of the dorms most affected by various types of damage. She provided further insight into how the custodians are affected by the actions of careless students: “Just think, is this the sort of thing you would do at home?” she asked.

Recently, Heights has been afflicted with a sizeable amount of very noticeable graffiti in one of the common rooms, but a group of residents took on the responsibility to clean the mess up. “I think the people who do this are the kind of people who are used to having people pick up after them all the time at home,” Laurie said. She explained that there are several little things students could do to make her job easier, such as wiping the snow and dirt off their shoes before they enter.

There has also been a lot of outrage, especially on Yik Yak, about the unknown person who on numerous occasions has left excrement on the floor of the bathroom in the Heights residences and has been dubbed “The Heights Sh*tter” by the campus community.

Leaving messes in the toilet is one thing that really bothers Bolduc: “It’s a courtesy thing first of all!”  As with most custodians, Bolduc has weekends off; only a select few make the rounds to take out trash and report any messes that require immediate attention, such as broken glass and vomit.  When Bolduc comes back on Mondays, she checks the damage charged to the dorm by the weekend custodians and challenges anything that the custodians could have taken care of but did not. “I just don’t think it’s fair for the students,” she said.

Despite the large amount of damage she has to deal with as a result of their actions, Bolduc says she genuinely cares about the students living in Heights. “I love my people,” she explained. “I want to take care of them.” Bolduc has worked for the College five days a week for the past nine years, and she tries her hardest to make it as hospitable a home as possible for the residents. One way she does this is coming back later in the day to vacuum a second time.

Considering that nearly 1800 students are living in a fairly small space and that there are several parties every weekend, some damage is to be expected. However, compared to other similar sized school’s, the figure for Colby is sky-high: in the academic year 2013-2014 Bowdoin reported only about $19,000 in residence hall vandalism across the campus, $81,000 less than Colby’s figure.

The College is working to implement many preventative measures to stop residence hall vandalism through the Colby Affirmation and by analyzing where and why residence hall vandalism is happening across campus. The efforts seem to have met some success. A recent e-mail from Dean of Students Jim Terhune estimates the amount of unclaimed residence hall vandalism and related fines at 35 percent lower than it was in the 2013-2014 academic year. The Alfond Senior Apartments saw the even more dramatic drop of 51 percent. “Needless to say, there is still work to be done, but this progress—because of [student] efforts—is very positive and very real,” he wrote.

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