Dorm damage down at this point
Dorm damage can run the gamut from smashed chairs to vomit-laden bathrooms to ripped down exit signs. Dorm damage levels have been low thus far.
Fortunately for students looking to avoid bi-yearly fines, "dorm damage is down this year," Associate Director of Campus Life Kim Kenniston said. Any student who clicked on the Civil Discourse e-mail postings last spring is likely familiar with residents' pleas to their peers to stop throwing furniture and tearing down exit signs.
While it is still too early in the year to make a definitive statement about the issue, Kenniston, who regularly compiles a list of the damages and fines, attributed the decline in dorm damage to the College's recent efforts to improve the buildings on campus.
The hope is that "as we renovate residence halls, people won't want to damage really nice stuff," she said.
This may be true, as Pierce Hall, which was remodeled and expanded in 2008, had $1.99 per person in dorm damage fines last spring, while Piper Hall, an older building that has yet to be renovated, had $31.60 per person in dorm damage fines that same semester.
"You don't want to damage something that belongs to you" Kenniston said, so Campus Life has allotted more money to improving the lounges in residence halls by equipping them with new couches, rugs and televisions.
Frances Lee '12 cannot help but doubt the effectiveness of this method, as the amount of dorm damage all depends on the residence hall and the type of people who live there. Lee lived in the Goddard-Hodgkins Hall (Go-Ho) before it was renovated, and she said that she never experienced any problems with dorm damage.
"The only damage I noticed was when someone broke the glass on the fire extinguisher box once," she said, "and then I would go to the Apartments [a much newer and nicer dorm complex] and there was puke everywhere."
Nevertheless, the statistics do, in fact, suggest that renovations discourage dorm damage. Thus, Campus Life is currently working on to replace the framed artwork in residence halls--which often get torn down on weekends--with student photography and posters of student productions on campus. The idea behind this initiative is that students will respect one another's creativity and won't want to damage something that one of their peers made.
Besides the recent renovations, another reason for this year's decrease in dorm damage could be the fact that Community Advisors (CAs) are "building some really great communities' and promoting a spirit of self-governance among students, Kenniston said. An example of this self-governance are the Community Living Agreements that each dorm wrote and signed collectively last February, and again at the beginning of this year."
By encouraging people to be positive about their communities," Kenniston said, "we are encouraging people not to break things."
The fact remains, however, that the level of alcohol consumption on campus directly influences dorm damage rates, and many remain skeptical that dorm damage fines will not decrease significantly until student drinking decreases. Kenniston believes that the hard alcohol ban has helped to reduce the level of dorm damage so far this year.
Although West Quad CA Andrew Wall '12 said he has seen "no more than [the] usual" amount of dorm damage, "it's too early to make statements [attributing this trend to the hard alcohol ban],"â€ˆhe said.
The College has also made an effort to feature more non-drinking-related campus activities on weekends.
"As we continue to do some of these positive things, we will continue to see a downward turn in damage billing," Kenniston said. She added that Campus Life is always looking to hear students' ideas on the subject.