Administrators Report Campus Vandalism On the Rise
Residential Education has seen a drastic rise lately in campus vandalism. In just two recent incidents, ResEd reported $18,000 of vandalism-related repairs on campus, approximately $9,000 in damages to the Firelands elevators and $9,000 of vandalism-related damages to the north entrance of Dascomb.
In addition to damages to vending machines and dormitory kitchens, ResEd reported that a shopping cart was thrown through a window of the Langston Hall entrance the night of March 3.
“These are conscious behaviors that people are engaging in, not things that could be construed as accidental instances of vandalism,” said Molly Tyson, director of Residential Education.
While it is typical for first-year residences, such as Dascomb and Barrows, to suffer from vandalism, Tyson explained that there has recently been an increase in vandalism in buildings across campus regardless of the age of the students living in the building.
According to statistics provided by Tyson, the number of judicial cases regarding vandalism—that is, cases with known perpetrators—has drastically increased over the past year, from one in fall 2005 to 29 in fall 2006. These numbers do not take into account those cases with unknown violators.
Associate Director of ResEd Facilities and Custodial Services Keith Watkins wrote in an e-mail to the Review that he has noticed similar increases in vandalism on non-residential facilities.
He also noted that vandalism has become increasingly regular throughout the week: “[Vandalism] was more likely to occur on the weekends in the past—[that is] not the case this year.”
He continued “[Vandalism is] mostly done…after midnight… more frequently, [it] has been occurring in the early evenings.”
Oberlin students have around-the-clock access to all residential buildings on campus. Such open access imposes limitations on how ResEd can target the causes of vandalism.
“The dilemma is, it could be anybody,” said Michele Gross, director of business operations at ResEd.
Tyson said, “When you have a repetitive, consistent issue in a specific building or in a specific place…there is a tendency to move in the direction that the community is usually responsible or someone in that community.”
While ResEd is increasingly concerned about the rise of vandalism on campus, it said pinpointing a solution is extremely difficult.
“This is a hard topic because it’s definitely an issue, but there’s no quick-and-easy solution when vandalism is random, and, as we see, there’s no quick-and-easy solution when vandalism is consistent and targeted,” said Tyson.
In search of possible solutions to this increase in vandalism, ResEd is proposing to have an open student forum after spring break.
“Somehow we need to come up with a way to curb vandalism because it costs a lot of money,” said Tyson.