Intentional property damage to ceiling tiles in Founders Hall in 2019. Photo by Zoë Hill.
Tori Miller | News Editor
Over the last few years there has been an uptick in vandalism and destructive behavior present on campus.
Reports on broken ceiling tiles and missing exit signs have become a normal occurrence. To quell this issue, an email was sent out to remind students to care and respect university property.
In the email, Student Development addressed the significant increase in intentional property damage occurring in residential facilities— most commonly seen in Marycrest Complex, Stuart Hall and VWK. Instances of destructive actions have resulted in damage to doors, walls, windows, bathroom fixtures, furniture, ceiling tiles and exit signs.
Christina Smith, director of Residence Life, said that most property damage seems to be done intentionally and without respect for UD’s residential facilities. Any intentional property damage is unacceptable and is a direct violation of UD’s Student Code of Conduct as well as the Commitment to Community, according to Smith.
“The cost to replace and repair the property damage is an unnecessary expense.” Smith said. “Staff who work to clean up or replace the property damages are being taken from other jobs they could be working on. Many times, an exit sign was torn down, replaced and torn down again in the same weekend.”
Participating in disrespectful behavior that violates the law or UD’s expectations could result in possible criminal charges, financial restitution, loss of housing, suspension and even expulsion.
“As a Catholic and Marianst institution, we learn essential life lessons when living and interacting with others,” Smith said. “The Code of Conduct sets the groundwork for acceptable and unacceptable behaviors as well as holding students accountable for their actions.”
Tearing down exit signs and ceiling tiles has become a social phenomenon. UD is not the only institution experiencing this kind of property damage. Social media trends, such as the “Devious Licks” challenge on TikTok and #ExitSignChallenge videos, might be responsible for encouraging college students to participate in theft and vandalism.
Since May, a group of faculty members and students across Student Development and Facilities Management have been brainstorming ways to change this behavior. Housing and Residence Life will incorporate an intentional focus on the Commitment to Community and have trained resident assistants and neighborhood fellows in Circling. This is a restorative justice practice which involves talking and reflecting with residents about their responsibility for their behavior and the impact it has on others.
Additionally, Housing and Residence Life is partnering with Facilities Management to facilitate a more thorough tracking program for property damage— aimed at checking the response and follow-up based on location of the report. The intervention and response implemented will be determined by the prevalence of damage in the area.
“I want students to have the best experience possible in our residential communities,” Smith said. “It is an incredible time in life, and I want them to respect the residential spaces.”
With these new approaches, Smith personally hopes to have zero intentional property damage for the 2022-2023 school year.
Student Development aims to prioritize safety in UD’s learning and living community. If you observe destructive or disruptive behavior, contact public safety at 937-229-2121 or your resident assistant or neighborhood fellow.