Facilities has seen an upswing in the amount of instances of dorm and house damage that have been reported on campus this semester.In the last three weeks, especially, “it seems like it’s spiked,” said Assistant Director of Facilities Linda Ross. This second semester has seen a marked increase in incidents from first semester.
“During J-term we usually have a lot [of incidents] because there’s a lot of drinking going on,” Ross said. “But it didn’t seem to stop after J-term ended and we started our spring semester as usually it does.”
March and April have been particularly costly months for Prescott House (ADP), where there have been recent incidences of broken chairs and tables, smashed outdoor lights, charred remains of a fire pit, food on the walls and other damage. The $2,484.84-worth of damage in March and April represents 73 percent of the $3,401.34 in house damage overall this school year. In contrast, Weybridge House cost only $21.50, and that was due to an accidental fire alarm.
Outer houses like Palmer and Fletcher have experienced more damage this year on the whole, according to Public Safety Sergeant Chris Thompson. But Thompson emphasized that this damage is not necessarily perpetrated by residents and has to do more with their propensity for throwing large parties.
Dorms, too, have taken a hit in the last few months. In a recent incident in Hadley, someone used a toilet seat to smash the glass in a vending machine and steal all of the food inside. In both Stewart and Forest Halls, windows were shattered, and in the basement of Forest, Facilities found ceiling tiles smashed on the ground. Kelly, Milliken and Lang have also received their fair share of wear and tear this year. Overall, though, damage has been spread fairly equally around campus.
“It’s been pretty straight across the board,” Thompson said. “The usual stuff that happens on weekends; people get a little over-zealous.”
Although damage this calendar year is up, this damage has not exceeded that done at the same point in the last school year. According to the most recent estimates, damages this school year represent a $15,000 drop, from $68,441.60 last year to $53,455.73 this year, although the disparity may narrow as the year progresses and when unfilled work orders are closed out.
However, incidents of vandalism still remain far above what they were ten years ago. In 2000, there were only 29 incidents campus-wide, and in 2007 incidents reached a peak at 236. There were 134 incidents in 2009, and 77 so far in 2010. Last school year, the school spent $86,564.08 fixing damage, and Facilities anticipates that around $20,000 will have to be spent between now and the end of the school year.
Facilities, which reports and often cleans up the damage, recently cut staff, which means that the individual employees have not seen a decrease in work. But Ross cautions not to rationalize the short staff issue as the cause for perception of increased recent damage.
“Taking a look at the fact that we’ve downsized our department doesn’t give any excuse for dorm damage,” Ross said. “[Students should] be responsible, that’s all.”