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You break it? You should buy it

Laura Merrell

On my return back from a relaxing month long break, I was greeted by an unpleasant email. All the residents in my hall were being charged for various and ridiculous damages I had nothing to do with. Yes, the fee was under five dollars for everyone, but it was the principle that annoyed me. The charges covered unjustifiable events such as pumpkins being thrown down the stairwell and feces being smeared on the wall. Feces? I thought I was living with people who were legally considered adults. To the people who will not come forward and assume responsibility for such a childish act, you make Tommy from Rugrats look like a genius.

I have also heard stories of people breaking furniture and bringing it up to another floor, so they can avoid paying for their negligence. In a college where there is no geographic boundary or separation between where we go to class and where we live, we really need to start taking ownership of our mistakes. No more graffiti on the walls, or stumbling into another hall’s bathroom and leaving a mess. There is nothing wrong with having parties or making some mistakes, but the concept of “you break it, you buy it” should be kept in mind. An entire building should not have to bear the full brunt of a few individuals’ actions; simply come forward and pay for it.

The College of Wooster is a residential campus. Except for special circumstances, all students have to live on campus for all four years in the various dorms, houses and apartments scattered around the College. All 2,000 -some students live within a brisk 10 minute walk from each other, so these issues concerning responsibility and paying for damages is significant. The professors can pack up and go home at the end of the day, but we are stuck with each other.

There are undeniably many positive aspects of an all-residential campus, which is what initially attracted me to Wooster. Coming from over 2,000 miles away, I wanted to be part of a close-knit community, both in and out of the classroom. Compared to my friends from high school, who study at huge universities with tens of thousands of students, our school has a much better sense of unity. However, this unity can be threatened or undermined, if a basic level of respect is not maintained.

Perhaps, a good rule of thumb is limiting parties to the confines of houses or peoples’ rooms, instead of spilling out into hallways or stairwells, where the damages from my bill seemed to be concentrated. At a college that promotes the development of critical thinkers and global citizens, this should not be that hard to manage for students. If you want to break things, then man up and pay for them. I have had to greet this new semester by coming to terms with the realization that there are people I go to college with that would smear poop on the walls. But please, don’t take a dump on my expectation of residential living.

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