UPD fails to halt Ivory Tower vandalism

Replacing exit signs and other objects damaged by vandals in Ivory Tower may cost thousands of dollars, University officials said last week. They also said that because of the time and money associated with repairing parts of Ivory Tower destroyed by vandals, the school might have to delay some maintenance work in the dorm.

Eric Hougen, project manager for the Office of Business and Operations, said the University has a limited budget for repairs. Destruction that affects safety in the building, such as exit signs and fire extinguishers, get priority, which in turn delays other repairs.

The Residential Property Management office is talking with the building’s architect about replacing the current exit signs at $150 a piece. Total replacement costs could be in the thousands, Hougen said.

“When we have to make vandalism-related repairs, it takes ways time and money from maintenance related repairs,” Hougen said. “We have a finite pool of resources; every dollar we put towards vandalism is a dollar we can’t put towards maintenance.”

Hougen also said Residential Property Management does not have enough repair workers, so maintenance gets pushed back when they have to fix safety equipment that has been vandalized.

Hougen said he does not know the financial losses due to vandalism in the dorm because GW does not keep figures on which repairs are needed due to vandalism.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to accept and acknowledge (acts of vandalism),” Hougen said.

Vandalism in the building began on the first day the dorm was open to students in August. While the pace of destruction has slowed down in Ivory Tower, it continues to be the scene of random acts of vandalism.

Three cases in the past two weeks demonstrate that efforts to stop vandals have failed, and University officials are placing the burden on students.

There have been 27 destruction cases at Ivory Tower since the building opened this fall, with the most recent occurring on Feb. 10.

“We don’t understand why mature upperclassmen students are damaging their own house, and we don’t understand why other students are tolerating this,” Hougen said. “We think there are witnesses who know these people who are not turning them over to (University Police).”

UPD increased its presence in the dorm last semester, conducting more frequent walk-throughs and positioning an officer at the front desk on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. UPD caught two female students vandalizing a basement restroom; most vandalism has involved exit signs and fire extinguishers.

A UPD officer patrolling the building Feb. 2 noticed a broken exit sign and fire extinguisher container on the fourth floor, according to a crime report. Many of the 27 cases have involved exit signs, ceiling tiles and fire extinguishers.

Last semester, UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said she is counting on witnesses to tip investigators for a break in the vandalism cases and that UPD would not offer a reward for information.

Ivory Tower community facilitators refused to comment for this story, saying they were told at the beginning of the year not to talk to The Hatchet.

Buildings with high levels of traffic, such as Thurston Hall, typically have more crime simply because of the greater number of people going in and out of the building, Stafford said. But Ivory Tower has had 27 reported acts of vandalism since August, compared to Thurston’s five, even though Thurston has 300 more residents.

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