The College is cracking down on vandalism this year, implementing stricter disciplinary sanctions for alcohol-related property damage. The change comes after nearly 80 percent of Bowdoin students responded that the College should respond to alcohol-related property damage with stricter disciplinary sanctions in last spring’s alcohol survey.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster outlined the changes in a campus-wide email at the beginning of the semester.
“Students who fail to respect others’ property create unnecessary work for staff to repair the costly damage and identify those responsible, and frustration for fellow students who must live with the damage and absorb the cost of repairs,” wrote Foster in the email.
During the 2011-12 academic year, the overall cost of vandalism in residence halls and College Houses was $23,299.
Students who immediately notify the Office of Safety or Security or their dean about property they have damaged will be expected to pay the cost of repairs, and their parents will be notified. However, students who do not step forward and are subsequently found responsible for committing vandalism will be placed on social probation and assessed a $100 fine in addition to the cost of repairs.
According to Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon, the new policies are designed to encourage students to take responsibility for their misconduct right away.
In the past, fines have been charged to the residents of the space that was vandalized, regardless of whether they had caused the damage. Spaces like College Houses host larger, rowdier events, during which College property is more frequently vandalized. As a result, house residents often pay for damage they do not cause.
“Every time we had a party, we’d find holes in the wall. We’d find beer cans smashed into our walls. We’d find food crushed into our carpet. It [was] disgusting,” said Kaitlin Donahue ’13, who served as Baxter House’s president two years ago.
Last year, more vandalism occurred in Baxter House than in any other College House, with residents paying just over $6,000 in damages.
Foster warned that repeat violations of the new policy could result in a Judicial Board (J-Board) hearing and immediate loss of College housing without reimbursement.
However, J-Board Chair Parker Towle ’13 said that the J-Board only becomes involved in cases in which suspension or dismissal from the College is possible, and so it rarely hears cases relating to vandalism.
“I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to play out on the J-Board end of things,” he said.
Though the costs of vandalism are now much higher, not everyone is sure the changes will have the desired effect. The costs of unreported vandalism for which the College is unable to find a perpetrator, for example, will still be charged to residents of the damaged building.
Jordan Goldberg ’14, who served as president of Reed House last year, also questioned whether the new policy will deter students from damaging property. He noted that most vandals act under the influence of alcohol in an intoxicated and belligerent state.
Ultimately, though, Goldberg deemed the policy “a little harsh, but probably a good idea.”
“Hopefully it’ll get people to step up more,” he said.