Unassigned damage costs pile up

Unassigned damage costs in Harris Millis are in the thousands this year, according to reports posted in the lobby of the residence hall, and no one is happy about it. Harris Millis reported the highest total of unassigned damages with nearly $14,000 last fall and $12,000 as of March 26, according to the UVM ResLife website, and some students say the system is unfair.”I just feel like I’m getting ripped off here,” fourth floor Millis resident Sara Stewart said. “I don’t even know what half the damages are, and I’m still giving my money to fix them.”Freshman Kathryn Esposito, a Millis resident, said she doesn’t even see most of the damage — she just sees the costs going up.”Every time I look at the chart in the lobby something as been added,” she said.Sophomore Tupper resident Gregory Francese said he has a hunch as to what is causing the difference in totals.”There are probably more freshman in Harris Millis,” he said. “That’s not to say all freshman cause damages, but most damages are caused by freshman.”Although the total costs in his dorm may be relatively low, Francese said he has still has some trouble understanding how ResLife comes up with the cost.   “The damages are completely arbitrary in terms of the costs because they never tell us how they come up with the cost,” he said. Harris Resident Advisor Kofi Mensah said that they try to make the unassigned damages system as fair as possible. “We do the best to investigate, ask around, and if that doesn’t go anywhere then the cost is going to be covered,” Mensah said. “Everyone is sheltering the blame.” Nevertheless, most residence halls had less than half as much as Harris Millis, according to 2009 ResLife reports.Last fall’s total for both University Heights North and South complexes, which house around the same number of students as Harris Millis, is just under $1,000.Marsh Austin Tupper, also on Athletic campus, had a total of about $300 last fall. Harris Millis Residence Director Antonique Flood said that while the costs are higher than last year, the building with the highest unassigned damage cost fluxuates.”It depends on the student culture year to year,” she said. This year the costs in Harris Millis are coming mainly from propped doors and stolen posters.Propping a back door of Harris costs $500 each time. The door was propped 11 times between Jan. 22 and March 23, according to Harris Millis records. The most expensive items posted on the list were a series of posters entitled “The Americans Who Tell the Truth.” They were stolen from behind glass cases, according to an e-mail from Flood. “More than anything we would just like to get them back,” she said. “I think they were an important part of the complex.”Flood said that the posters, which have been in the building for three years, were part of a committee initiative to bring diversity into the residence halls.The five posters, stolen the last weekend of February, are valued at a total cost of around $1,000, according to the e-mail from Flood. While the posters have not been returned, Flood said students are encouraged to submit tips or return the posters anonymously.Mensah said he feels sorry for students who do the right things but are charged fees because of the few “knuckleheads” running around the complex.As recent SGA President-elect, Mensah said he plans to try and stop the high occurences of vandalism within residential halls. “We need students to realize that their actions will have consequences,” Mensah said. Things could definitely be looked into in order to get through to students, such as stressing the importance of one’s actions during initial floor meetings in the beginning of the year, Mensah said.Flood said that students should value their residence halls and take pride in what is essentially their home for a majority of the year.  “We can tell students to be responsible but nothing will change until the students change and decide they care enough to not treat their residence halls this way,” she said.