The price of punching through drywall may soon be more painful than any resulting bruised knuckles.
A recent focus on incidents of campus vandalism, sparked largely by the destruction surrounding the closing weekend of the Gambier Grill, preceded a decision Monday by Student Council to propose a new policy which that increase the financial penalties for such offenses.
The proposed policy change recommends increasing the penalty to match fines required by Ohio state law, according to Student Council President Phoebe Roe ’16. The policy would institute a $1,000 fine for intentional acts of vandalism, in addition to the cost of repair. Such a change would bring the policy more in line with the specifications regarding vandalism in the Ohio Revised Code, which provides for a fine of up to $2,500 for acts of vandalism.
Roe expressed concern that the current penalties for vandalism are not significantly higher than penalties for accidental damage.
The Student Handbook prohibits acts of negligent or intentional damage such as shaking lampposts, damaging ceiling tiles or furniture and writing graffiti. Students are responsible for repair or replacement costs, and acts of intentional damage can lead to “an additional $100 fine and additional judicial sanctions as appropriate.”
Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper said vandalism involving broken windows, overturned furniture, deliberately clogged toilets and damaged lampposts has increased around campus in recent weeks, especially when compared to rates of the same crimes from earlier in the academic year.
While there has been an unusually high amount of attention-grabbing vandalism in the past few weeks, overall damage from vandalism has actually decreased this year, according to Facility Logistics Manager Clint Baker.
In January and February 2015, Maintenance received 22 vandalism-related work orders requiring $1,240 worth of repairs. In those months this year, students submitted 14 work orders requiring about $600 worth of repairs.
While vandalism damage may have decreased overall, Roe said Student Council was concerned about the message unpunished acts of vandalism send to the community, and expressed hope that stricter regulation would encourage students to think before they act.
“We think that if somebody vandalizes something intentionally, that’s a big sign that they don’t care about this community,” Roe said. “If they won’t listen to more passive measures, then this is something more concrete we can do.”
Roe said Student Council, as it drafts the proposal, is trying to be sensitive to the impact a fine as sizable as $1,000 may have on an individual student’s finances. She also said Council is continuing to work on refining the language of the proposal.
In collaboration with Council, Samantha Hughes, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, will evaluate the proposal in the coming weeks. Roe said she hopes for a definitive response from Hughes after spring break.