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"Vandalism will occur, and you'll all be charged for it." Self fulfilling prophecy?

(17 Posts)
wanderings Tue 22-Sep-15 07:13:53

When I started at university some 15 years ago, this is what we were cheerfully told by the warden at my hall of residence on the first day.

Result? Vandalism. Loads of it. Every term an itemised list was published of all the "vandalism" that had occurred, with the inflated cost of making it good (which wasn't always done), from tags off fire extinguishers to bar glasses found in bedrooms, and fire alarms set off at night.

Now, of course damage must be paid for, but many of us there thought that their approach was presenting an axe to a vandal on a golden platter.

Since then I have always wondered: do all universities have this problem (after all, the building would frequently be full of late teenagers trying alcohol, some for the first time), or was it just the way the one I was at dealt with it? There was almost no CCTV in the hall of residence then, so nobody would ever be caught, and neither was any effort made to do so either; it simply went on the "battels". But there was a lot of discontentment because of it. Perhaps it was their way of making people want to leave hall of residence in their second year?

Pixi2 Tue 22-Sep-15 07:25:11

I cannot recall any vandalism in my halls. We played hockey in the corridors without breaking windows, had parties which spanned several floors, the laundry facilities were in the basement and were always clean. Maybe it was just yours? We certainly weren't angels either. The city had a fountain which used to have washing up liquid poured into it regularly causing a foam party (disclaimer, I never did this, the rumour used to go around the study union that it was foam party time. Everyone knew where to head). This also may or may not have been in the UK.

SirChenjin Tue 22-Sep-15 07:28:51

I'm not quite sure what your point is, tbh. The fault, imo, lies solely with the students - who presumably would have objected to CCTV in their living area - as opposed to the university. What did the students themselves do to stop it or report it? Presumably the warden couldn't have been everywhere at all times, and probably took the approach that you were all adults, capable of dealing with the consequences of your behaviour.

wanderings Tue 22-Sep-15 08:37:18

My point is that although the reality of catching anyone is difficult, the message from the management probably had a powerful effect.

Things might have been different if the message had been as follows:

"Vandalism is a serious matter and will not be tolerated. This is your home, you must treat it with respect. Any known offenders should be reported to us. Anyone caught will not only have to pay for the damage, they will be sent for disciplinary action, which means that they may be asked to leave the hall, or even the university."

Now, everyone knows that the reality of enforcing that is difficult; the students know it too. But I think the management was shooting themselves in the foot by telling everyone from the very beginning "vandalism happens, you'll all pay for it". This was said both out loud, and in writing. It was like saying "here is your licence to vandalise, the cost will be spread, you'll barely notice it."

chemenger Tue 22-Sep-15 08:50:35

I don't remember any vandalism when I was at university, I certainly never paid any collective fines. CCTV hadn't been invented. I have not heard of students where I teach being fined for such things either and we have no vandalism in our building. Students don't even write on toilet doors any more.

Needmoresleep Tue 22-Sep-15 10:18:03

chemenger, thats almost a pity. In my day the doors on the women's loos at LSE were seriously funny/opinionated/etc. Indeed my first real culture shock. (I had just left a convent boarding school.)

yeOldeTrout Tue 22-Sep-15 10:35:50

"Vandalism" is the wrong word, but I remember frequent stories about damage to residences, when I was at Uni in the '80s. And friends at Uni in the '90s. Different countries, different types of Uni, too.

chemenger Tue 22-Sep-15 10:46:40

Actually I do recall one of my friends was fined for "vandalism" in halls. He painted the door of his room with multicoloured stripes, and was swiftly made to pay to have it repainted institutional grey.

GrizzlebertGrumbledink Tue 22-Sep-15 10:48:21

Uni in the naughties here. There was one episode of vandalism that i remember - to the communal washing machines. We were all collectively quite upset by it but not charged. Apart from that the occasional broken light switch/burn on carpet etc (and one serious kitchen fire!) from high spirits and general ineptitude at independent living but nothing deliberate.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Tue 22-Sep-15 10:53:31

I can see what you are saying, wanderings - instead of telling people that every effort will be made to catch vandals, all they are doing is saying that the costs of repairs will be split between everyone.

It's like they are telling a potential vandal that they won't try to catch them, they will just make everyone pay for the vandal's 'fun' - and telling everyone else that there's no point being careful, because if they do break something, they won't be stuck with the full cost.

ouryve Tue 22-Sep-15 10:57:17

I was at uni in the late 80s, in a massive halls of residence complex and can't recall any major instances of deliberate vandalism (though the pig out machine got a few hard whacks when it refused to dispense chocolate after a night out!)

We did get a stern warning about using sheets for toga parties, mind!

Brioche201 Thu 01-Oct-15 21:37:52

DS1 has been at uni 2 years and has not come across any instances of student vandalism.

Ubik1 Thu 01-Oct-15 21:45:16

I don't recall any vandalism in halls.

However I live in a building which has two privately rented student flats. These students are well heeled ( that's the only way they can afford to live in this area) but over the years we have had drunk students trying to kick our front door in, shattered a communal glass door, stolen a bike and just last week kicked a wing mirror off our car. confused always coincides with the students coming back to digs. Always a PITA.

EmmaWoodlouse Sun 04-Oct-15 11:48:49

When I was in hall you had to pay a deposit called "battels" and any damage or missing items in your room came out of that. You also got charged if you put Blu-Tak on the walls - it was a rather old-fashioned place and had picture rails and you were only supposed to hang pictures on hooks from those. One person I knew got a deduction she couldn't understand, and thought it might have been because the warden objected to a political poster she had in her room! She couldn't prove it though! My friend had to pay for some lost keys but the warden actually told her she would have let her off the charge if she hadn't been very drunk at the time (warden was reputed to be an ex alcoholic and had a very hard line on drunkenness).

wanderings Mon 05-Oct-15 08:37:59

Oh yes, it was called "battels" at my uni too. We were allowed Blu-tack though, although some rooms had rough-texture wallpaper which meant it was difficult to stick Blu-tack on.

BondJayneBond Sun 18-Oct-15 10:30:40

I don't recall any vandalism when in university flats.

I do remember that some students in one of the student flats near us had a fire in their kitchen though - proper fire, fire brigade came out, although the students in the flat managed to extinguish the fire using the fire extinguishers provided by the university before the fire brigade arrived.

The students were subsequently fined by the university for the crime of having used the fire extinguishers. It seemed very unfair, given that they'd used them to extinguish a fire rather than having been messing about with them.

PerspicaciaTick Sun 18-Oct-15 10:38:45

My hall's attitude was that this was our home and we were expected to treat it with respect. I don't recall any vandalism to communal areas and students who damaged their rooms found the warden coming down like a ton of bricks...not that they needed to much as it was pretty rare.

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