Some students don’t mind destroying homes

With seven destroyed exit signs, and ceiling tile damages, three puddles of vomit, a broken soap dispenser, shattered glass, a torn window screen, and excessive untidiness in common spaces, this weekend the Alfond Senior Apartments were billed $809.59 for damage repair and fined $3,650.00, bringing vandalism expenses to a total of $4,459.59 in the apartments alone.
Residence hall vandalism surged in the last weekend of February, an anomaly in the downwards trend of the last few years. The $6,400.30 in damage across campus was mostly due to damages in the Alfond Apartments. Expenditures in previous weekends of the Spring term have averaged around $400. SGA President Matt Hawkins ’17 deems “any amount of vandalism” unacceptable.
Those responsible for the vandalism have not admitted guilt, nor have they been identified or reported by bystanders. Because there are no individuals to hold accountable for the costs, all Alfond residents will be charged $42.34 each. The cost of this single weekend nearly matches the $45.53 billed to each resident for the entire Fall 2016 semester. Spring semester’s charges are currently up to $87.00 per person – $9,132.36 total – accrued from 38 recorded instances of vandalism. Of the numerous offenses, none have been credited to a student.
“The intentionality behind the damage is what sickens me the most. There are so many incredible people here, but it’s sad that the community in which those people live is tainted by those who don’t understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Hawkins commented. Hawkins commented that he believes it is only a small concentration of students that engage in vandalism, which goes directly against the Colby Affirmation every student promises to uphold.
Colby Director of Security Pete Chenevert expressed frustration at the fact that innocent students are obliged to pay for others’ heedlessness. Even when people know who committed the damage, the “culture is to let it diffuse into dorms, which continues to breed vandalism because who’s to stop it?”
Financial and disciplinary punishments exist with the purpose of preventing such behaviors. However, Chenevert commented that these consequences seem to be easily avoidable, and may not be working. Stefan Kohli ’18 echoed this statement, saying “I think it’s easy for students to drunkenly tear down an exit sign or kick in a vending machine, because they don’t have to deal with the consequences nine times out of ten.”
Maintaining anonymity discards the need for a disciplinary citation and removes the full financial burden from the individual, displacing it onto such a large crowd that it minimizes the costs so that one particular instance of dorm vandalism
seldom exceeds a dollar per person in a large dorm. If an individual were to come forward and report themselves, they are generally charged only for repairs and are not fined. However, if they are reported by someone else, they are generally charged for both the repair of the incident and the fine correlated with it.
Nonetheless, there have been many crimes, and the group held accountable monetarily is associated with the location of the crime, not the perpetrators of it. The Apartments, Heights, and Hillside—recurrent hosts of weekend parties on campus—hail students from all around campus every weekend and incur the cost of some of their guests’ imprudence. Disproportionate economic burdens are placed on residents of such dorms. If the current term’s dorm vandalism bill were split equally among all Colby students, each would have to pay about $10.00; yet, because the problem is concentrated in certain residence halls, students living there must bear the weight. It is a burden party hosts assume, but due to the nature of how the fines are dispersed, it is also a burden every resident bears, regardless of whether or not they host a party.
In the fall, only five individuals took responsibility for incidents of dorm damage, leaving residence halls to absorb the costs of the remaining 182 instances of dorm damage across campus, together costing  $20,716.02. This semester, so far only two people have fessed up to their misdeeds, and campus-wide damage charges are at $17,277.36.
Chenevert urges hosts to send a message that unruly behavior will not be tolerated and to report anyone they know is responsible. He mentions the late night Spa sessions have helped reduce dorm damage because it diverts people and sobers them up. He commented that inebriation seems to be highly correlated with the issue: “people do stupid things when they drink, and the building takes the brunt of it.”
Program Coordinator for Residential Education and Living Sarah Kletzer ’15 states that “the truth of dorm damage is that it can only really be prevented by the students.” Security and Hall Staff can be more alert and increase presence at weekend events, but they wrote that only way in which vandalism will cease to be a problem on Mayflower Hill is if residents take a firm stance against it.

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