While students waited for firefighters and Security to repair burst pipes in the flooded Tower on Wednesday, one resident jokingly asked if "all Tower residents would be charged for this accident as well."
All joking aside, a new policy for dorm damages is long overdue. The Tower, like most dorms, has endured a number of damages and "spills" this year. Under the current system, the College charges every resident for damages incurred in common areas, hallways, and elevators of dorms when the parties responsible do not come forth.
The fact that responsibility for incurred damages is spread so thin that few students ever think to question the current policy does not make it any less unjust. In the past two months, all students in Coles Tower have been billed for several fire alarms, vomit clean-ups, and even a discharged fire extinguisher, yet only a few ever cause these incidents. A policy that would assign equal blame to a student ten floors away from misbehavior is not only unfair but also nonsensical.
While it is futile to merely encourage more mature weekend behavior, a policy with added accountability would not only be fair, but would also lead to greater personal responsibility.
We advocate a stronger, localized solution. Damages should be charged to floor residents, not dorms as a whole. Despite the fact that discrepancies will exist, damage is often caused, whether directly or indirectly, by residents of their respective floor.
While this policy could increase each student's share of the total cost, closer contact between floormates would also apply added pressure on those responsible to admit fault. Conversely, under the current blanket policy guilty students have little reason to accept blame.
Bowdoin's policy should facilitate accountability rather than indifference.