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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

DCL is failing us

I got an email recently that told me I—as well as the other residents in my hall—were being charged $25 for damages to Village C. The email from the Department of Community Living (DCL) explained how there has been significant damage to the common areas in the residence hall including kitchen and bathroom spaces. Since they have no way of knowing who is responsible for the damage, the costs for cleaning and repairing are being billed to everyone equally, in accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities code. The email goes on to reference this in the Rights and Responsibilities Section 9.6, “The assigned residents of a given residence hall will be held accountable for any inappropriate behavior that occurs within the hall, or any damages resulting from such behavior. Each student is responsible for any damages caused by the student and/or the student’s guests. When damage occurs in a student’s room, corridor, or apartment but cannot be attributed to a specific party, the costs may be billed in equal parts to all residents of that area.” Now that I have described this email, let’s back up a bit. 

On Nov. 7, I got a similar email from DCL, that basically told everyone to be cleaner. In summation, the inhabitants of Village were being disrespectful to the common spaces. It goes on to say that if this damage continues, they are going to bill us. At no point in this email do they ever say what was damaged, just to be better. I read this email and assumed that there would be no other issues, especially considering the fact that I do not frequent these common spaces. However, it did bother me that DCL wasn’t telling me what was broken. I personally had seen nothing broken. The bathroom right across the hall from me has no problems. The kitchen nearby also I have not seen any problems with. So, I wondered how I was supposed to change anything when I had never seen anything broken. 

We now flash forward a couple of weeks when DCL sent me this email saying they were actually going to charge me $25. In this email, they once again did not tell me what they were charging me for. From my perspective, DCL was charging me $25 for no reason. I was annoyed and decided to email the Area Coordinator (AC) to ask about what was actually broken. She responded and told me that the damage included broken toilet seats, clogged drains, chipped tiles, shattered microwave plates, hair dye stains and mold buildup. My first reaction was that all of these things seemed typical for a college dorm, run-of-the-mill wear-and-tear. The mold build-up was a little concerning considering I am not exactly sure what we are supposed to do about that. When I asked further for specific locations, she told me that we were being charged specifically based on where we were living and not the entire building. This further increased my confusion. Again, I have never seen anything broken in the bathroom across the hall. It makes no sense to me that I am being charged for something that I don’t even use. Yes, the bathrooms upstairs may have broken toilets, but why would I go upstairs and use it when there is one right across the hall? So already, this location-based charging is flawed and ridiculous. 

I also want to know how they came up with this cost. In the response from the area coordinator, she said that they were still in the process of adding up and that the bill would be posted at the end of the semester. As of now though, they are going to charge at least $25. Again, I ask for some transparency here. How are they coming up with this number? If you look up the cost of a toilet seat or some new shower curtains, it doesn’t really make sense why everyone in the area is paying $25. A new toilet seat is maybe $20 and a new shower curtain is maybe $9. Seriously, how many of these did we break? I am very interested to see if they include what was broken, how many of it was broken and where it was broken in the bill at the end of the semester. It is very possible that I am missing something, but right now I am just confused because the numbers don’t seem to add up. 

Additionally, let’s talk about the Rights and Responsibilities statement they brought up. I understand that I signed it and will honor what it says, however, the statement does seem a bit ridiculous. Any Brandeis student can enter Village. Clubs can actively reserve the common spaces and use the kitchens. You don’t even need to reserve any of these spaces either. You can just walk in and use them. Of course, with this, you can use any bathroom you want. So why should I be responsible for their behavior? It’s not like I can control whether or not a club comes in and breaks everything in the kitchen. Or if a student needs to stop and use the bathroom and ends up breaking the toilet. Yet, I am still responsible for the behavior of those students? Can someone explain the logic? I currently cannot come up with a better solution for this, because it is truly difficult to determine who broke things. But I think it is unfair to assume that only Village residents are responsible. When in reality plenty of people on campus come and do activities in the building. 

Although I have spent the majority of this article explaining why I think DCL is making some mistakes here, I would also like to talk about the students. I address Brandeis students here when saying this. We are adults here. Let’s be more responsible. Clean up after yourself when using the kitchen or common areas. It’s a common courtesy to not leave everything like a mess. You are not the only people that use the area. Have a better sense that your actions affect those around you. You breaking something clearly has an effect on others, so be more careful. Also, if someone knows how the toilet seats were broken, please let me know because I would be fascinated to learn how someone broke a toilet seat, if not multiple. 

All I want is for this to make sense. I am sure that DCL has a reason for charging us like this but from my perspective, it really doesn’t make sense. Have some transparency and give more information. It is not helpful when you are vague and then proceed to punish us when you didn’t even tell us what was wrong. I had to specifically ask what was broken. Imagine if they just said Village C second-floor toilets have been broken.

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