Damages in Residence Halls
Over the course of the Fall ’22 semester, BSU’s residence halls have experienced a concerning level of damage and vandalism. In an interview with the Director of Residence Life and Housing, Justin McCauley, we are given insight into the details of the behaviors.
The types of damages range widely from broken paper towel and soap dispensers in bathrooms to more severe like torn down ceiling tiles in residence hall Shea/Durgin. Also, on the severe side were reports of damaged fire safety equipment. Staff had found the covers to some fire alarm pull stations in the residence halls have been smashed as well.
Early in the semester, there were alarming messages, including racism and antisemitism, that had been discovered on the walls within the residence halls. Law enforcement has since started investigations into these crimes and multiple arrests have been made.
As a result, students have racked up thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Residence Life and Housing puts their most effort in trying to identify the individual who causes the damage. If the individual is not identified, residents must undergo the community damage billing process. The community damage billing process is enacted when common areas of the building are damaged (hallways, bathrooms, lounges, etc.) For example, if the men’s bathroom on the second floor of a residence hall is damaged, then each individual living in that area and would therefore have access to that bathroom would be charged. Areas like hallways and elevators would require the cost to be split amongst the entire residence hall.
Justin McCauley shared that the some of the recklessness could be attributed to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and that “people are carrying an extra weight on their shoulders. There’s a lot higher prevalence of anxiety, of stress and people have a hard time relating to each other and interacting and that spikes the anxiety. So, I think that somewhere pent up in people maybe leads folks to act in ways that we’ve seen before but we’re probably seeing a lot more frequently”.
BSU Residence Life and Housing Department has sent multiple emails to the community about the incidents and has also hosted building-wide meetings with resident students to address such behaviors. These meetings were a chance for residents to share their frustrations about the damages, voice concerns and share any information that would help decrease the behaviors. There were also discussions about what it means to be a community at BSU and emphasis on its importance for students. Since these actions had been taken, ResLife has seen a notable decrease in damages within the residence halls.