Respect can reduce dorm vandalism, reduce damage budget

By Grace Bachmann

Special to The Denisonian

Beer cans and whole fruit lodged in toilets.  Bodily fluids in bathrooms.  Shattered light fixtures in residence halls.  Sound familiar?

Last year, the University allocated over $130,000 to issues of damage and vandalism. Every few days, the University calls in professionals to deal with bodily fluid, trash, and damaged campus property.

Garret Moore, Director of Security, Safety and Risk Management, says that most of the damage occurs during the night while students are under the influence and not thinking.

A handful of students are responsible for the damage, suspects Director of Facilities Services Art Chonko.

“The majority of the student body is caring and respectful,” asserts Chonko, and vandalism reflects a minority’s careless and unsustainable mentality—we pay so we can destroy.

The University encourages students to imagine how the $130,000 damage budget could be used.  Chonko suggests residence halls might be nicer places to live: “It could provide sprinklers for Beta or Kappa, replace the roof of Shepardson [Hall], replace windows in Beaver [Hall, and] replace aging hot water boilers.”

Despite the frequent incidents of vandalism, damage in residence halls is decreasing on a yearly basis.  Changing residence halls, like Sawyer, from all male to co-educational has already had an impact.

“All-female wings are just cleaner,” Moore says.

And damage reports indicate non-residents cause most of the issues in residence halls.

Students can only access other residence halls until midnight, not 1 a.m. as in previous years.  The impact of this adjustment remains to be seen.

Ultimately, Moore says, students need to take ownership of their living spaces, and respect each other.

Chonko proposes “one way to help the situation would be to report, or stop, the individuals doing the vandalism when they are known, but the campus culture doesn’t seem to encourage that.”

It will take a shift in the campus culture to prevent the damage and make Denison residence halls nicer places to live.