Last fall, students racked up $8,374 worth of damage to campus residence buildings, a 63 percent decrease from the $22,887 incurred last spring.
With $2,665 in charges last semester, Baxter House once again sustained the most expensive residence hall damages. Brunswick Apartments had the second highest cost for the fall semester with just over $1,000 worth of damage, and Ladd House had the third highest final cost of $849.
The majority of Ladd House’s costs came from a chandelier smashed by a student during the celebration for the field hockey team after its National Championship victory.
Ladd House president Julian Tamayo ’16 said that he was glad that no one was hurt.
“As president you want to make sure that people are having a good time which was clearly the case, but for no one to get hurt and for the mess to get cleaned up pretty shortly after that was what made me feel okay about the incident,” said Tamayo.
In this case, a first year male student came forward to take responsibility for the incident, so the cost was transferred to his bill and the house faced no repercussions.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon estimated that only 30 to 50 percent of campus damages are attributed to a particular student or group of students. In many of these cases the guilty party only takes responsibility because they are identified by other students or by a proctor.
In a spring 2011 alcohol survey, 80 percent of Bowdoin students responded that the College should counter property damage spurred by alcohol use with stricter disciplinary sanctions. In response—and after $23,299 in damages incurred during the 2011-2012 academic year—the College changed their policies so that students who have not stepped forward and are then found responsible will be assessed a $100 fine on top of repairs, according to a September 2012 Orient article.
Students who are found guilty of malicious damage or vandalism may have to meet with a dean, and a letter may be sent home to the student’s parents. If the students are on athletic teams, they may have to meet with their coaches as well. In some cases students can be placed on probation or made to do community service in addition to paying for the damages.
“Alcohol is almost always involved,” said McMahon.
She acknowledged that this fact can play a part in determining the repercussions for the guilty student or students.
If no one takes responsibility for damages, then the cost of repairs is split among all of the students who live in that building or on that particular floor.
“Last year we had a push for having people come forward so we had a spike in people taking responsibility. This year that went back down a little bit partly because we are constantly re-educating people on that process,” said McMahon.
In the fall of 2013, the Student Government Association of Colby College passed a motion that would force all students living on-campus to split the cost of any unattributed damages. The hope is that this initiative will help to prevent excessive damages in the future. The Student Government Association will send the proposition to Campus Life for consideration.
McMahon said that no such proposition has been considered at Bowdoin in the time that she has been here. She pointed out that it would be especially difficult on the Bursar’s office to have to add so many small fees to each student’s bill.
The high spring 2013 costs can be widely attributed to a broken pipe and subsequent flood in Baxter’s basement; the house alone racked up $8,324 in damages. A student took responsibility for the incident and paid for the costs.
Over the past three years College Houses have consistently needed the most costly repairs, with Ladd and Baxter topping the list. Brunswick Apartments also had high costs for repairs over the past three years.
McMahon explained that Ladd and Baxter often are the sites of the worst damage because of their central location on campus.
“They have a lot of traffic,” she said.
McMahon added that, beyond paying for the repairs, College Houses are not punished for excessive damages.