EDITORIAL: University should reconsider who pays for damages
In the previous weeks, three illuminated exit signs on the third and fourth floors of Hassenfeld Residence Hall were damaged or stolen. On Sept. 9, the Department of Community Living sent an email to the residents of the first floor of Hassenfeld announcing that the cost of repairing the signs will be equally distributed among the residents of the building, as per section 9.6 of Rights and Responsibilities. This board condemns any kind of action that may endanger the safety of the residents on campus — however, this board also encourages DCL to reconsider its decision to charge all residents of the building, as it doesn’t necessarily punish those who caused the damage and won’t prevent it from happening again. Moreover, such an action will burden students who may not have the financial resources to pay an unexpected fee and who were likely not at fault.
Safety is crucial to students who live on campus, and any action that presents a possible danger needs to be taken seriously. When a safety concern happens, the exit signs act as guides for an effective exit from the building. Removal of the signs can pose a great danger for those who are not familiar with the building. Additionally, illuminated exit signs are rather expensive, and damaging them puts unnecessary financial strain on both the school and its students. This board appreciates that the University is starting the repair and investigation processes promptly.
That being said, billing every resident of the building for the replacement of the exit signs is not a reasonable solution to the problem. There has been no evidence presented proving that the exit signs were damaged or removed by a resident of Hassenfeld. Any student who lives on campus has card access to every residence hall and can enter and exit the buildings freely.
Furthermore, while residents should take action when they witness actions that could impact public safety, it is not fair to expect students to keep track of exit signs.
In addition, charging all Hassenfed residents could cause financial difficulties for individual students. The Justice contacted DCL for more information about the cost of the repairs, but DCL could not comment on the matter as it is an ongoing investigation. This board encourages the University to rethink how it is going to fund this repair, as well as how it will handle similar situations in the future.
In areas with a high population density, like student resident halls, safety infrastructure is extremely important for the wellbeing of the residents. Anything that causes a direct threat to it needs to be taken seriously — and the students responsible should come forward to prevent their innocent peers from bearing the burden of their irresponsible actions. And for exactly that reason, the University should consider more carefully who should pay for the new signs and create a plan for preventing future incidents. The solution should not pose any financial burden to the residents and, more importantly, it should not punish anyone who is not responsible for it.