Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

Increased instances of vandalism reported in Anderson Hall

Frequent damages to property in Anderson Hall were reported this spring semester.

Throughout the spring 2015 semester, reported vandalism has increased in Anderson Hall, especially in the past few weeks.

Mostly, this vandalism includes perpetrators tearing posters off walls and bulletin boards, Anderson Resident Director Ethan Starkey said.

“Typically, on average, we maybe see one instance of vandalism per week or every two weeks...we’re seeing enough to call attention to it,” Starkey said.

Starkey could not specify how many incidents had occurred or how frequently. The increase in incidents prompted him to send out a hall-wide email on March 31.

“We classify any damage to any University property as vandalism,” Starkey said.

In some instances, inappropriate or offensive phrases have been left on whiteboards and bathroom stalls, and substances like laundry detergent and ketchup have been smeared on residents’ doors, according to Starkey.

“It’s been happening all year,” Starkey said. “There’s been little instances here and there, and it’s on every single floor and every single community [in Anderson]. However, recently, there’s been a large increase specific to two or three different floor communities throughout Anderson, and it’s been kind of a large spike."

Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which bars educators and administrators from divulging private information about students, Starkey said he could not confirm which floors have been experiencing the vandalism.

However, some Anderson residents have said their floors are especially problematic, recalling acts of vandalism that matched Starkey’s description.

Approximately two weeks before spring break, someone smeared peanut butter, detergent, toothpaste, ketchup and mustard on a four south Resident Assistant’s door, according to freshmen residents Lily McCausland and Kendra Barat.

“It’s just frustrating because we don’t have that much time left here,” Barat said. “What’s the purpose? Like if you’re a punk, this isn’t the place to be a punk. This is stuff high schoolers do to the principal they don’t like.”

Following the incident, Starkey held a mandatory floor meeting for residents of Anderson four south, according to McCausland and Barat. Starkey said he has been involved in floor meetings but did not specify on which floors.

Neither McCausland or Barat said they believe anyone on their floor would have committed the acts.

“Surveying the room, everyone seemed kind of annoyed that we were having the meeting, and I just can’t see anybody on the floor doing that. But it is happening,” Barat said.

Anderson six south residents have experienced similar instances of vandalism on their floor.

Resident Stephen DeVito recalled instances when he saw lipstick smudges all over the hallway walls, spray paint on the floor and a coffee stain outside his door.

“At least I was hoping it was coffee,” DeVito said.

At this time, there are no suspects for the vandalism, and it is believed that different people are committing the acts, according to Starkey.

“We don’t have any responsible parties identified,” Starkey said “It’s really tough to identify someone especially when the vandalism occurs at three or four in the morning. But we do afford students the opportunity to speak, to report any act of vandalism to an RA, [Resident Director] or Public Safety.”

Even minor acts of vandalism require costly cleanup, according to Starkey.

“At this time, we don’t have an estimated dollar amount in clean up, but we do track every instance that happens and when Aramark is needed to come and clean up, so we keep a running list of that and we assess damages at the end of the semester,” Starkey said.

If no responsible party is identified, the cost of maintenance or cleanup would be divided among floor residents of the affected community, according to section 7B of the University’s Housing License Agreement.

“We want to empower residents to take responsibility for the place that they’re living,” Starkey said. “Housing and Dining expects for each resident in any community to take responsibility and make sure that the vandalism doesn’t occur and to report any known acts of vandalism as well.”

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