Process behind room damages fines explained

As graduation quickly approaches, some students are moving out of their on-campus apartments. If they leave their apartments with damages, they will be hit with a fee from the Office of Student Living.

Fees depend on the severity of the damages that occur. For instance, if a light switch is broken after students leave their residency, they will be charged a $3 fee. However, if an exterior door (i.e. the emergency exit) is damaged, then a student will be charged a fee of $250 for replacement or repair.

When Student Living charges a fee for damages and the perpetrator is unknown, the fee will be divided amongst the residents of that particular apartment.

If a resident has knowledge of who the perpetrator is, however, then it is his or her job to address it to Student Living so that only the perpetrator is handed the fee.

If students think that the fine is unjust or doesn’t fit the infraction, then they can appeal their fine to Student Living. They will have 30 days to do so after they have received the fine.

During the appeals process, Student Living will usually take no longer than a week to make a decision on whether to adjust the fee or relieve it. Even if it’s by accident, students could still be fined.

“If it’s a hole in the wall or something that’s done intentionally or even just by accident, it’s still a damage, so someone still needs to take responsibility,” said Jennifer Patsy, the resident director at Finegan Hall.

Patsy said that Gannon is not the only school that has this system.

“Typically at any university, when someone moves, the university does damage checks so that [the apartment] can be fixed for the next student that might be moving in that bed space,” she said.

In most cases, the student will probably not have to pay directly if their damage fine is less than $100. Few infractions go over $100.

For on-campus dorms or apartments, students already have a $100 deposit in case this scenario happens. Patsy said that if damages are found or if a student takes responsibility for something, then it just comes off his or her deposit.

In case the fine is over $100, Patsy said, the student in question will have to pay the difference of his or her total fine and his or her deposit amount.

“If they don’t pay the difference, the university puts a hold on their transcripts,” she said.

Over the past two years, Patsy said, the residence halls have been much cleaner during the school year and that students take extra precaution at the end of the semesters in December and May before leaving.

One student wasn’t nearly as lucky with avoiding a fine. Jacob Nemchick, a senior sport and exercise science major, was fined twice for cleaning infractions.

One of them was more general, which was the result of the apartment being dirty. Even though he said he and his roommates spent a lot of time cleaning, it wasn’t good enough in the end as they were eventually fined for it.

The other fine was a result of Nemchick leaving something behind when he moved from Kennilworth Apartments to an off-campus house in late July. One time, he borrowed a shirt from his roommate.

He said that since bad things happened to him, he and his roommates dubbed it the “lucky shirt” just to be funny.

Whenever he would wear it though, bad things still happened to him. And so to get rid of his apparent bad luck, Nemchick left behind the shirt when moving out. He slipped it under his dresser with a note that read “This is the lucky shirt. Wear it with caution.”

However, with Nemchick’s luck, a maintenance person discovered it and reported the infraction. After all that, he was fined $25 for leaving behind the shirt.

“They’ve got to be a little more fair with their punishments,” he said.

Other students, however, never experienced dealing with room damage fines. Everett Wensel, a senior accounting major, said that, overall, he doesn’t have a problem with the system.

“As long as we document at the beginning of the year or let them know about an issue during the year,” he said, “we are fine.”

JACOB TARR

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