Jeralyn Wessel – Staff Writer
Anyone taking a brief stroll through East and North Halls will quickly notice dangling exit signs and missing ceiling tiles. The extensive vandalism on the underclassmen men’s dorms last semester prompted a mandatory meeting on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 12, for all residents of the halls.
Sam Roskamp, the Learning Area Community Coordinator for the men’s dorms, hosted the meeting in an attempt to bring to light the effects of the destruction. For example, within the last year, about 22 exit signs have been broken. With each costing $100-150, replacement of the signs alone cost roughly $3,000. Other vandalism includes broken ceiling tiles, various items dropped down the stairwell, and broken glass throughout the buildings.
Sporadic acts of vandalism have occurred in the dorms throughout the previous years, but Roskamp noticed an increase in frequency and extent of destruction over the past semester. Resident Assistants contacted him weekly about the most recent property damage, and he realized a meeting was imperative.
Roskamp sought to explain the direct effects of the vandalism on the residents.
“Just because it’s not your property— just because that exit sign doesn’t belong to you– it’s still your building,” Roskamp said.
Due to budgeting, nearly all money dedicated to the men’s dorms has been spent on repairing damages. Thus, little to no money can be spent on improvements for the dorms such as games, new furniture, or other updates.
Messes created by dropping items down the stairwells inevitably result in staff spending time cleaning them up when they could be focused on their regular tasks. Large items dropped down the stairs could also be lethal for anyone who happens to be at the bottom.
While damages have occurred in the women’s dorms and apartments, the extent has been far less than at East and North Halls. This trend of damages in underclassmen housing is fairly consistent across colleges in America according to Roskamp.
Unlike Dordt University, some colleges directly charge the wing or floor residents for any vandalism repairs necessary. This method can be effective to influence residents to report the vandals, but it can also have negative effects on the social environment of the hall as those not responsible still bear the burden of the vandalism.
Roskamp doesn’t want Dordt University to become a place where residents are distrustful of each other. Instead, he wants to cultivate an environment that is less individualistic about property damage and more willing to take care of their accommodations.
“A thing we really want to do more of is just invest trust into the people who are in the dorms,” Roskamp said.
Roskamp heard from several RA’s that the meeting had prompted conversations about the extent of damages. Many did not realize how funding for repairs came from their tuition dollars and kept improvements to the building from happening.
After the meeting, some residents of East Hall noticed continued vandalism. While Roskamp recognizes the meeting won’t keep all students from causing damages, he hopes the majority of residents will be willing to influence their friends and dormmates to stop the excessive vandalism.