University housing forces dorm residents to share costs of vandalism repairs

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During the fall term, students living in South Mountain residences suffered a series of vandalism incidents. Now unable to identify those responsible, University Housing is demanding that all dorm residents pay the cost of repairs.

A total of 42 maintenance requests were made this quarter to repair damage that includes broken ceiling tiles, screens, exit panels, microwaves, soap dispensers and doors, according to the deputy manager. of Outreach and Communications for University Housing, Nona Matthews.

There were 15 reported damages at Muir Hall, 6 at Santa Lucia, 10 at Sequoia, 5 at Tenaya and 6 at Trinity.

“I was about to go to bed one night because it was around 2 a.m.,” said Maxine Walas, a first-year philosophy student and Sequoia resident. “I heard a boy running down the hall and peeked outside to see what was going on. I see this guy jump up and smash his head against the ceiling and break the tile and he ran away. I never saw this boy again, which means he probably didn’t live in my apartment building.

The damage put a strain on the warden’s staff.

“[Custodian] workloads increase, which impacts planning and workflow, ”said Matthews. “When damage is pervasive, these impacts are compounded. Our custodians are dedicated people who take pride in their work. The recurring damage reflects a lack of respect for the community, others who live there and the staff who are dedicated to keeping our communities clean and safe. “

Student Development Coordinators (CSDs) and Resident Advisors (RAs) at these university residences have actively investigated to find those responsible for the vandalism. If they find the responsible people, or if someone comes forward, only those people will be charged a fee. However, if the individual cannot be found, each resident of the building must pay a repair fee of $ 5, according to Matthews.

The reported damage is filed with the Cal Poly Police Department, which considers it to be vandalism.

“Anytime there is damage we have to report it to the Cal Poly Police Department and it is extra work for us. [resident advisors]. We then report that case number to University Housing, ”said a Sequoia RA, who asked to remain anonymous because speaking to the media violates their contracts and they fear retaliation from the university.

According to Matthews, if a student is flagged for vandalism, it can lead to criminal charges.

Students can report incidents of vandalism if they have seen someone causing damage to residences. Residents should notify Jonny Moreno, the Student Development Coordinator for Muir, Sequoia, and Tenaya, if they wish to take responsibility or report someone else by November 30.

“If I knew someone who damaged the building, I would report it 100%,” Meechan said.

South Mountain residents say they are frustrated with having to pay for damage they did not cause.

“I would be pretty upset if I had to pay for the damage,” said Rory Meechan, a freshman in civil engineering and a resident of Sequoia. “I had nothing to do with it and half the time I wasn’t even in the building. I feel like I shouldn’t have to take responsibility for it.

Some students said they were concerned about the large number of vandalism incidents that have occurred in their building.

“I am honestly very shocked that there are such a high number of reported cases,” Walas said. “I knew some students would be crazy the first few weeks of college, but I think that’s overkill.”

The acts of vandalism not only bothered residents but also made their residential experiences uncomfortable.

“When people break ceiling tiles, there’s debris all over the floor and if people break the microwave I can’t heat my food,” said Anna Vanderford, a freshman in anthropology and resident of Sequoia.

Some say they think damage rates have increased because students are coming back from the pandemic.

“The number of reported damage is, I think, above normal,” said an RA from the Sequoia Residence. “I think it’s because we’re coming back from the pandemic and everyone is trying to show off more after being locked up and that can lead to more alcohol use which can lead to harm. ”

But an RA said an end to vandalism is not in sight.

“Honestly, I don’t see a solution to this,” said an RA from the Sequoia Residence. “I hope people stop soon, but I don’t see that happening.”

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