, Beacon Correspondent/strong
Last semester, fish graffiti defaced the walls of residence halls and bathroom stalls. As students returned to class last week and settled into dorms, so did vandalism, this time in an entirely different form.
In an email to Little Building residents on Sept. 6, David Haden, director of housing and residence life, addressed damage to two elevators caused by cigarette lighter burn marks on the ceiling. The email specifically told residents that the cost of the damage would come out of their pockets.
“Whenever an unidentified person commits an act of vandalism in our residence hall communities, each of you pays to make the necessary repairs, either through community damage billing or because fees must be re-allocated from their intended purpose to pay for someone’s irresponsible behavior,” Haden said in the email obtained by the Beacon.
Emerson College Police Department Officer Scott Bornstein said administrators are discussing plans to stem the vandalism, but declined to comment on the details. He said he was unsure of the current punishment for a student caught defacing school property.
“You cannot put someone in every elevator,” Bornstein said, “so there is not much we can do about it.”
But one resident assistant is trying to prevent further damage herself.
Dylan Manderlink, an RA in the Little Building, said she spoke to the residents on her floor about how damaging the residence halls is disrespectful.
“I think the best thing I can do as an RA is raise advocacy to my residents,” said the sophomore, who studies investigative theatre for social change. “I spoke to them personally and explained how terrible it is to vandalize the property in a school that is as beautiful and expensive as this one.”
Manderlink said that although she believes it is unfair, she agrees with Haden that students in the building should pay for the damage if the perpetrator does not come forward.
When a serial graffitist — who signed sketches of a bug-eyed fish with the name “Gooch”— scribbled on walls throughout campus last year, there were no specific consequences for students. The vandalist never came forward.
By making students feel financially responsible for the repairs, Haden said he hopes residents turn in peers they catch participating in this behavior.
“Because the resident hall is their home, they are often times more likely to witness something than a staff member might be,” said Haden in an email interview. “It is important to us that residents take an active role in helping us address the situation.”
Little Building resident Kelsea Clark, a writing, literature and publishing major, said she thought the damages were immature.
“I don’t understand what it would gain us,” the sophomore said about the burn marks in the elevators.
Public Safety and Facilities Management staff and residence hall staff members were told to, “keep a close eye on the elevators,” Haden said.
Sophomore Hanna Edizel said she is unimpressed by the vandalism and feels bad for the members of the cleaning staff forced to wipe off the burn marks.
“Whoever it is, is really not being all that rebellious,” the visual and media arts major said. “You are only making the cleaning staff work harder and that is not fair.”