Damages to North/South Hall raise student concern

A string of recent vandalisms hit North and South halls, including a broken vending machine and damaged furniture. The foyer, a common area for sophomores and juniors alike, is located between the two halls and has areas for studying, relaxing and leisure. One snack machine was removed after the glass was shattered.

The recent news of destruction met with displeasure and unhappiness from many students, including junior Matthew Ponthier, a resident of South Hall. Ponthier recalled the incident and its impact on the students.

“When I walked out the night before, it [vending machine] looked fine, but the next morning the whole thing was smashed,” Ponthier said.

The vending machine, which is now being repaired, is a privilege for students. Its recent damage was met with concern.

“I don’t know why someone would do something that is detrimental to everyone,” Ponthier said. “This incident causes everyone here to lose privileges.”

Residential Life is working on the incident and strives to keep campus a safe and pleasing place despite these damages.

Wanda Olson, director of Residential Life, said that it is important for students to be comfortable with their living space and feel like a community that can address issues like these.

 “I think it is very important to keep and maintain safe and attractive dorms,” Olson said. “Our students strive to take care of their surroundings so that everyone can enjoy them.”

 Despite the rarity of events like these, Olson recognizes the importance of addressing the issue and designating responsibility to whoever damaged the property.

“The students are respectful of one another and the living spaces they occupy, and problems like this are not usual for us,” Olson said. “We are striving to find the individuals responsible for this and hold them accountable.”

Many students said it is difficult to determine who was responsible and realize other solutions may have to fix the problems.

Should everything else fall through, Residential Life has the ability to fine the students for the damages.

According to the 2013-2014 Board and Residential Agreement, “Students are jointly responsible for care of public areas and equipment. If the identity of the person responsible for such damage cannot be determined, the University may prorate the cost among all or any portion of the residents of the hall”.

Despite this, Residential Life recognizes  student complaints that this practice appears unfair and it is  something they aim to avoid. Olson said the goal is to bring the information to students’ attention and have the individuals take responsibility.

“We never want to fine students as it is a last resort, but by bringing it to all students information often comes forth,” Olson said. “We would rather have students come forward and take responsibility for their own actions”.

Many students, although not entirely happy with the idea of fines, said they recognize the difficulty of handling the situation.

“It’s tough, as threatening to fine students can be quite unpopular,” said Matt Favaro, sophomore and North resident. “However, I don’t blame ResLife, since the whole situation is difficult and needs to be addressed.”

Furthermore, many students recognize the need in more action and deterrents for such cases of destruction. Favaro knows the difficulty of holding such individuals responsible and mentioned some other steps that could be taken to alleviate future problems.

“I don’t think fining everyone is a terrible idea since it deters a lot more people and puts social pressure on the person responsible,” Favaro said. “I also think that it could be helpful to put up a camera, possibly around the entrance, without infringing on any privacy rights.”

The damages are currently under investigation by the Trinity University Police Department, with students looking to move past the incident.

“I think that sometimes things like this can be accidents,” Favaro said. “But once it is intentional and repeated, it becomes a major problem. Hopefully we can move on without any future problems like this on campus.”