Despite officials’ plans to tear down and reconstruct Thurston Hall’s interior this summer, students will be charged for damages to their rooms.
Renovations to the residence hall are set to begin in June and end by fall 2022, but officials said Thurston residents are still required to pay for any damages to the walls, furniture and facilities in their rooms. In interviews with more than 50 students, more than 40 said upholding damage fines is unfair because repairs to the building will be inconsequential once the hall is reconstructed.
Seth Weinshel, the assistant dean of students, said all students must pay damage fines and leave their rooms “broom clean” at the end of the academic year regardless of whether the building is slated for a complete reconstruction at the end of the year.
“Students should leave their space as they found it on move-in day, and that will prevent them from being charged any fees,” Weinshel said in an email.
Weinshel declined to say why officials will charge Thurston residents for damages or how officials will use the money from the fines. He declined to say what feedback officials have heard from students about the damage fines or whether officials will be more lenient about damage fines in Thurston rooms.
In interviews, 44 Thurston residents said damage charges prior to renovations is unnecessary because officials won’t have to pay to fix the damages. Two students said they understand the damage fines are necessary to hold students responsible for damaging rooms, and six students did not feel strongly about the fines.
Lindsey Rush, a first-floor resident, said her mom lived in Thurston when she was a student and that the hall has looked the same for decades. She said if she wasn’t going to be charged for putting holes in the wall, she would hang more decorations and add paint to her walls.
“With the knowledge that this building will be knocked down next year, we should have more freedom to do what we want with the walls,” she said.
Lindsay Haaker, a ninth-floor resident, said paying damage fines is “ridiculous” because the hall will be gutted at the end of the academic year, so officials don’t need money to fix any damages like in other residence halls. She said she would have added more shelving to store items that she can’t fit in her closet and drawers if she didn’t have to pay damages at the end of the year.
“It’s kind of ridiculous that we have to pay damage fines because the building will be torn down this year so there is no point in fixing them,” Haaker said. “If we do have to pay, I wonder where the money will be going.”
Paloma Delgado, a fifth-floor resident, said requiring students to pay for damages to a building that is being torn down is a “money scheme.”
“We pay $50,000 in tuition, why are they charging?” she said. “They’re really milking us.”
Jin Haugland, a third-floor resident, said charging students for damage to the building is “totally illogical” because the building will be destroyed at the end of the year, which makes repairing damages arbitrary. Haugland added that officials should focus on repairing current issues in the residence hall, like mold and a lack of hot water, that hamper the quality of the living space.
“Yet they somehow care if we put a tack in the wall,” she said. “I pay $75,000 a year to go to this place, at least deal with the mold before bitching at me about a tack.”
Lexi Clayton, an eighth-floor resident, said she would add more decorations to her room if she wasn’t charged for damages.
“The University informed us in the contract, but personally I find it absolutely ridiculous that we have to pay if the building is being knocked down,” Clayton said. “That is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard.”
Ethan Vosper, an eighth-floor resident, said he learned about the damages at the beginning of the year but thinks that charging students for damages to the walls is unfair because future Thurston residents won’t deal with the damages current residents make.
“Damages to furniture is fair because they may need to use it for other purposes and other residence halls,” he said. “It’s completely unfair to charge someone for putting holes in the wall when it’s going to be torn down anyway. I don’t understand what that accomplishes.”
Sarah McGinity, a ninth-floor resident, said she understands the fines are in place to encourage responsibility in the residence hall and “take good care” of their living environment.
“My living space would remain the same if I wouldn’t be charged for damages because I do not need to change or adjust anything in the room as of now,” McGinity said.