Student Vandalism on Campus

By the Editorial Board As students on campus, we talk with each other about the issues that are most concerning to our livesigarettas: our schoolwork, relationships, jobs and internships. But we rarely focus on the behind-the-scenes operations that Skidmore maintains to sustain our lives on campus. There is a significant number of staff who clean our dorm bathrooms, cook the food we eat, and keep the campus as beautiful as it is. We are able to focus on schoolwork and friends because of these employees who take care of all the other maintenance issues on campus. But this Editorial Board believes that the amount of student vandalism on campus makes the staff’s job much more difficult than it must be and reflects a lack of respect for the people who make our lives comfortable on campus.

It is not uncommon for a student living in the dorms to notice broken glass, holes punched in the wall, or trash and cans littered within the common room or hallways. In this semester, there has been graffiti in Jonsson Tower elevators and ceiling lamps ripped down on the second floor of Wait. This vandalism is not limited to this term-- there have consistently been vandalism incidents every semester. Typically, this destructive behavior happens on weekends, when students have been drinking. The debris or vandalized area is left for maintenance staff to clean up.

This theme of vandalism is a poor reflection of the integrity of the student body. Vandalism primarily happens in the dorms, not the apartments: you wouldn’t punch a hole in the wall in your Sussman apartment, because you have to live with that hole for the next nine months and pay for the damage when you move out. But a hole in the entryway of Howe will be fixed, by someone who you likely won’t see or interact with, and won’t cost you directly. We are able to commit these acts of vandalism in public spaces and walk away unscathed because someone else cleans up after us. We should know better.

Individual actions are diffused throughout a community and affect everyone. Unaccountable vandalism is selfish on a number of levels. If there is enough vandalism, the cost will be distributed for all residents of the dorm to pay off. This unanticipated financial cost is a burden, particularly for low-income students and students who work to pay their own way. It’s an insult to your peers to assume that tearing down a lamp when you’re drunk will not cause ripple effects throughout the community. Damaging buildings takes up the time, energy, and resources of College employees who have greater responsibilities. Painting over a graffiti-covered wall is an unanticipated work order, a requirement to fix something that didn’t originally need.

We need to reexamine the costs of student vandalism on our campus. It affects College employees and your fellow students. We are old enough to understand the consequences, we should be mature enough to not create the problem.

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