Respect for Facilities and Property
Amherst College prides itself on being a residential community of active learners. To that end, Residential Life supports and complements the academic programs and educational mission of the college. Amherst commits a great deal of its resources and energy to providing students with opportunities for their development as scholars, as social beings, and as individuals. We are rightfully proud of the high quality of our facilities. Lack of respect for facilities and property is a direct affront to our core values. Dorm damage, defined as damage to a facility beyond what would be expected from normal wear and tear, is a particular concern because it adversely affects the community in ways that go beyond the immediate area or building involved. Furthermore, dorm damage is demoralizing and expensive. Wanton damage to any part of the physical plant tarnishes, erodes, and undermines the basic principles upon which our community is based. We cannot, should not, and will not tolerate any such assaults on the main reason for our gathering. Amherst College and the Residential Life staff challenge all students to combat dorm damage and to take responsibility for all physical spaces in our community.
Reporting Damages and Administration of Charges
Dorm damage at Amherst College may be defined as the unauthorized use, abuse, destruction, or theft of any college property. This includes all damages exceeding a physical condition that one would expect from the normal wear and tear of campus facilities. The college’s dorm damage policies are overseen by the Department of Residential Life in collaboration with Facilities. The Dorm Damage Coordinator, an employee working between the two departments, is responsible for administering all dorm damage charges as well as fines for safety violations (such as unwarranted use of a fire extinguisher, tampering with smoke detectors, opening of security screens, etc), which may be assessed for any behavior or action that poses a threat to the well being of the college or its community members. The current Dorm Damage Coordinator is Danielle Hussey. The Dorm Damage office can be reached via email at DormDamageAppeals@amherst.edu or by phone at ext. 5434. Email is recommended.
Damage is reported to the dorm damage office in one of three ways:
- Through employees of the Facilities custodial staff who discover damage within the dormitories while performing their daily tasks. They write a report of the damage that is passed on to the supervisor of the Service Center and then to the Dorm Damage office.
- Through Campus Police via health and safety violations, such as the unauthorized possession of a keg, smoking inside a dormitory, or tampering with fire equipment. In these instances, a report of the violation is filed by a Campus Police Officer. Based on these reports, the Chief of Police compiles a weekly list of safety violations to be billed to individual students, which is then forwarded to the Dorm Damage office.
- By Resident Counselors (RC's), usually for damages that occur during weekends before Facilities staff have had a chance to identify it.
Investigation, Billing and the Role of Resident Counselors
Resident Counselors, along with the help of students, are responsible for investigating dorm damages within their building. Investigation may include any number of steps, such as dorm-wide emails inquiring about the charges, door-to-door visits, etc. When the individuals responsible cannot be identified, the charges for damage are distributed evenly among the members of the floor or building where the damages occurred. Unaccounted for damage that occurs within a bathroom may be distributed among either all the male or all the female residents of a floor or building depending on the designated sex of the bathroom.
After investigation, resident counselors are responsible for sending out notifications of dorm damage charges to either the individuals responsible, or to the members of the floor or building when the a specific individual cannot be identified. All such notifications include a description of the damage, the approximate location and date of where and when the damage occurred, and, finally, the cost of the charges. A copy of all dorm damage charge notifications are passed on to the Dorm Damage office so that they may make a record of the charges. In the event that the RC is unable to provide a notification, or if the academic year has ended, the Dorm Damage Coordinator will assign the charges. At the end of every semester dorm damage charge records are passed on to the Comptroller’s office for final billing. Billing for damages occurring during the Fall semester is sent home by the Comptroller’s office in January and for the Spring semester in June.
Space Reservation for Parties and Events
It is important to note that when a student or student group books a common space in a dorm, they are financially responsible for any damages that occur within that space during the time-period allotted to them. If damages do occur, for which that particular student group is not responsible, it is the responsibility of the hosting group (not the RC) to investigate and identify the individuals responsible, and to then notify the RC or the Dorm Damage office if they wish to avoid bearing the cost of the damages.
Room Inventory Forms
The Room Inventory Form (RIF) is the primary vehicle used by the College to assess the condition of all rooms and their furnishings. Each student will have an RIF completed for them before moving in. These forms should be checked and signed by the student to insure that the present condition of their room and its furnishings is accurately reported on the form. Any inaccuracies or discrepancies should be brought to the attention of the Resident Counselor at move-in time, so that the changes can be verified and the form corrected. If the student does not sign and return their room inventory form during the fall, they waive any right to an appeal of dorm damages based on end of the year room inspections.
The Appeals Process
If after receiving notification of dorm damage charges from a Resident Counselor, a student feels they have been wrongly charged, they may dispute their charges in writing. Appeals should be sent to: DormDamageAppeals@amherst.edu. Once notified, students are allowed seven days to appeal a charge, after which point they waive their right to an appeal. While the Dorm Damage Coordinator is responsible for overseeing all correspondence regarding damages, they do not have the power to make unilateral decisions regarding appeals. In general, the consideration of an appeal is collaborative and includes input and feedback from any number of campus employees involved in the repair and investigation of the damage. Final decision over appeals rests with the Dean of Residential Life in conjunction with the Custodial Supervisor.
*Please note that being off campus during the time at which a specific damage occurred is not an acceptable reason for an appeal. Charges for damages in which a specific individual cannot be identified are distributed evenly among the residents -- not necessarily because we believe an individual within the dorm to be responsible, but because the college deems it the responsibility of the dorm community to share the burden. As members of a community, students are expected to monitor their own behavior as well as that of their neighbors and guests, and to care for, respect, and take ownership of the spaces in which they live.
Vandalism and the Role of the Dean of Student Conduct
The Dean of Student Conduct is responsible for reviewing dorm damage cases of a particularly malicious or violent nature. While all forms of dorm damage are counterproductive to building an active learning community, cases of vandalism constitute a violation of the Student Honor Code and Student Handbook. In such instances, further action beyond the standard financial penalties may be necessary. Such consequences may include additional fines, community service requirements, the loss of student housing privileges (e.g., placement at the bottom of room draw, change of room assignment and/or room group, loss of on-campus housing, etc.) and, if warranted, disciplinary suspension or even expulsion. This list is by no means exhaustive. It will be to the judgment of the Dean of Student Conduct along with the Class Dean of any student found in violation of the handbook to decide upon a punishment that best addresses the circumstances surrounding any specific offense. It is our belief that finding opportunities for learning and reflection in response to such offenses will only benefit our community. To the extent that we are able, a strong emphasis will be placed on alternative forms of punishment such as community service.
Repair Charge: (# of man-hours) X (overtime reimbursable hourly rate for tradesperson) + (cost of materials).
If a contractor is used for the repairs then the charge will be the invoice cost.
Furniture and Equipment
Furniture Repair Charge: (# of man-hours) X (overtime reimbursable hourly rate for tradesperson) + (cost of materials).
Furniture Replacement Charge: cost of replacement.
If a repair is not feasible and the item must be replaced, the cost will be equal to the cost to buy a new piece of equivalent furniture.
Furniture and Equipment Relocation
Furniture and Equipment Assigned to a Student: Minimum charge of $25 per item moved back to its original location.
College Community Furniture and Equipment Moved to a Room or Suite: Minimum charge of $100 per item moved back to its original location.
Cleaning Charge: (# of man-hours) X (overtime reimbursable rate for Custodians).
Year End Dorm Room Cleaning Charge: Same as above but no less than $100.
Note that the minimum charge for cleaning is $100.
Grounds Clean-up Charge: (# of man-hours) X (overtime reimbursable rate for Groundskeeper).
Note that the minimum charge for grounds clean-up is $100.
Lost Key Charge: $75 lock charge plus $2 per key replaced.
Safety Violation Charges
Unlicensed Kegs: $100
Tampering with Security Devices: $100
Damage to Security Screens $400
Removal of Security Screen Tag $25
Improper Roof Access: $100
Fire Safety Violation Charges
Failure to Evacuate $100-$500
Tampering with Fire Safety Equipment: $100-$500
Obstructing Fire Personnel: $100-$500
False Fire Alarm $100-$500
Malicious Burning $100-$500