Dakota residents are up in arms after learning GW may charge them for vandalism in the building if property continues to be destroyed and defaced. Defecation in elevators, holes in walls and a stolen emergency phone are on the list of damages.
When GW officials met with residents last week to discuss the damages, they said students could end up footing the bill if they do not figure out who is guilty, residents said.
But students said the University has not done its part to combat the problem.
“We haven’t broken anything. We shouldn’t be held responsible,” sophomore resident Kelly Schirmer said. “They should first increase security. The (community host) is supposed to be in the lobby every night from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and they’re hardly ever there. They have to increase security before they make us pay.”
Acts of vandalism in the building include defecation in one of the elevators, holes punched in the walls on the 10th floor, a smashed fourth-floor mirror and a stolen lobby emergency phone. Door handles on the main glass doors also were repeatedly broken and stolen, Community Director Matthew Porter said.
Porter, who oversees The Dakota and other residence halls, said he sent a letter to residents three weeks ago inviting them to discuss the vandalism, security measures and to make it clear that if the vandalism continued they would be billed for the damage.
Many students agree that more security could abate the problem.
“GW has a responsibility to offer us a reasonable amount of security. That hasn’t happened,” said senior Erin Street, a Dakota resident. “They haven’t gotten their acts together to install card readers, or video cameras. And now when security problems arise, they want us to pay for their negligence.”
Cathy Resler, executive vice president of the Student Association, said that at the meeting students were told that if they act together to turn people in for vandalism, the community billing could be avoided.
“Who is taking a poop in the elevator?” Resler said. “If we saw them we would report them.”
Other students said community billing is an acceptable solution.
“If that’s what they have to do, than that’s what they have to do,” said a fifth-floor resident who wished to remain anonymous.
At other floor meetings, Dakota community facilitators, Porter and other CLLC representatives told residents to be more careful about who they sign-in to the building and to never let in strangers. They also told residents CLLC had plans to install more card readers and video cameras in common areas during the summer, residents said.
Porter said he told residents that community billing is a last resort that will only go into effect if the situation does not improve. Porter said he would prefer to work with students and Residence Hall Association officials to stop the vandalism.
The Dakota has cameras monitoring the entrance and a CH at the entrance.
There have been no incidents of vandalism in the three weeks since the letter went out, Porter said.