Spencer Short — Staff Writer
Pranks. Love them or hate them, Dordt has a lot of them. It’s nearly impossible to go at least one week without hearing about something that someone has done for a good laugh. Wrapping up someone’s room in Christmas wrapping paper over Thanksgiving Break, someone somehow putting pumpkins on top of each point of the Campus Center, and, the most recent one, the theft of Student Government’s yellow-hand chair and placing it on the overhang to the Campus Center. Light-hearted, mostly harmless, and usually stupid–the normal Dordt prank.
But per every few ‘good’ pranks, there’s always a bad one. The fire alarm debacle of last year, which many East Hall residents may remember where the fire alarm was pulled at 3 A.M. two nights in a row over finals week, leading to a possible case of serious property damage to the vehicle of the instigating student, is a prime example of how things can get out of hand quickly.
This year, students have been caught spraying urine at one another (which is classified as assault, a felony), throwing flour through windows, riding bikes through the halls in the early hours of the morning (breaking the East Hall water fountain in the process), and, most recently, the theft of the entire 3rd Floor East Hall bathroom’s shower drains.
“These are not pranks, these are policy violations,” said Derek Buteyn, Dordt’s Director of Residence Life. “We [Residence Life] are okay with pranks, as long as they’re enjoyable, everyone involved feels fine afterwards, and there’s next to no mess to clean up afterwards. We’re looking to create a comfortable, close community that works well together and create a culture of accountability.”
With two counts of felonies taking place in two consecutive years by different groups of people, the question of whether or not this is to become a trend, especially within the men’s dorms where most of this activity takes place, is fresh on everyone’s mind.
One student, who will remain anonymous, sent a very strongly worded letter to Sam Roskamp, Dordt’s Learning Area Communicator, President Hoekstra, and the East Hall Third Floor stating his dissatisfaction with how the situation was handled in regards to the recent East Hall shower drain theft, which caused maintenance to shut off water to that floor, essentially making only one shower usable at certain periods of the day.
“Did all of us in East Hall, Third Floor gang up to accomplish this absolutely wicked, evil and asinine prank? Of course not. Are we all paying the consequences? Yes. Is this fair? Absolutely not. I understand life is hardly fair, but when I’m attending a school with a $40,000 dollar tuition rate, I expect to be able to at least maintain my personal appearance and hygiene,” said the writer of the email.
But Residence Life, along with the Resident Assistants of both North and East Hall are trying their best to respond to these situations as quickly as possible. Chase Pheifer, an East Hall R.A., was the first one involved when another “prank,” the urine situation, first arose.
“I was on duty that night, making my rounds, and I noticed what was going on,” said Pheifer. “I went and got another R.A., and we confronted the people who were doing it, talked to them about what was going on, and got everything documented. We as R.A.’s aren’t looking to catch you, we just want to maintain a safe community and develop better people.”
Although things may seem bigger than they actually are at the time, both Buteyn and others are very confident that cases of these kinds of activities aren’t seen to be rising but are isolated incidents that are handled efficiently, effectively, and with grace in mind.
“Every year you’re bound to encounter problems, and these students have made poor decisions that certainly don’t reflect the broader community. I don’t think that things are trending in a negative way,” said Buteyn. “We aren’t trying to condone tattling, we’re just trying to enforce standards that lead to a closer community working well together.”