Vandalism in residence halls raises concerns


Columnist Johnson argues that residence halls are private communities where political campaign materials should not be distributed. Johnson refers to the campaigns for Racel Junck, a City Council Ward 4 candidate, and Elizabeth Warren, Democratic presidential candidate, which have distributed flyers in residence halls. 

Rachel Ori

Dorm life may not be as picture perfect as college brochures make it seem. 

Whether a student is dealing with a messy roommate or navigating through a cramped residence lounge, frustrations can emerge in response to a living environment.

This semester, the Inter-Residence Hall Association discussed a resolution pertaining to the Maple-Willow-Larch residence hall. The resolution asked for money to help fund a new game room for the hall, with IRHA voting to send the resolution to the Department of Residence.

While IRHA voted to send the resolution up the chain, members discussed some concerns that come with public living spaces, specifically the history of vandalism in residence halls. These concerns have left the residence hall without a game room for multiple semesters.

Brittney Rutherford, marketing coordinator for the Department of Residence, said that while vandalism in the dorms is bound to happen, the DOR isn’t out looking to get students in trouble. 

“We want to work with students and teach them about the impact their actions can have,” she said. 

Vandalism and other crimes are not uncommon in on-campus living areas. Iowa State had five cases of burglary within on-campus housing in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education. This is down from 2014, when there were nine cases.

Rutherford said that residence hall floors are their own mini halls of government, with decisions about personalizing the floor up to each hall cabinet. 

While some cabinets don’t decide to take the risk and invest in extra items for the hall, others do and have to deal with the potential consequences. 

“The cabinet must decide what works for that specific community,” Rutherford said. “All this helps students learn responsibility.”

Another concern from residence hall life is the threat of being charged a fine for misconduct in public spaces.

Alexis-Dietz Noel, sophomore in elementary education and resident of Wallace Hall, said her hall is currently facing charges for carpet stains in the main lounge.

She said the janitorial staff questioned who had caused the stain, and the hall community adviser sent out a mass email alerting residents of the imminent charge if no one admitted to the act.

“It seems unfair that everyone would be charged for the actions of one or two people,” Dietz-Noel said. 

To avoid facing these sorts of charges, Rutherford said that residents need to take a second to “stop and think.” 

“Taking that breath and deciding to not take your actions to the next level is key,” she said. 

Vandalism isn’t only limited to on-campus housing. Off-campus housing is affected by vandalism too, along with apartments and rented homes. 

“The time you spend in the dorms now is preparing you for later in life, when you have a place of your own,” Rutherford said.