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ISSUE 120 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/2/2007

Hoyme suffers damage

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, March 2, 2007

Hoyme Hall residents woke Saturday morning to find thousands of dollars' worth of vandalism to their hall's computer lab, lounge, ceilings and windows. Two students came forward Wednesday claiming responsibility for all the damage done. According to Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell, “There was an absurd amount of damage.”

The worst damage was done to the computer lab, where the students emptied chemical fire extinguishers, damaging eight computers and one printer. It is not known at this time whether or not Informational and Instructional Technologies (IIT) will be able to clean the computers well enough to bring them back to working capability. If the computers have to be replaced, damages could exceed $10,000 just to replace the technology. Currently, “the computer lab is useless,” according to McDowell, and the room has been locked until IIT workers have either fixed or replaced the computers. Utility rooms, kitchens and lounges have also been locked.

Fire extinguishers were also emptied in other areas, causing more damage requiring professional clean-up. “They are great in a fire, but not something you want to be breathing,” McDowell said.

Other damage included broken window screens from 16 windows, a bent heater cover, broken ceiling tiles and damage from the egging and toilet-papering of the lower lounge.

Costs for the window screens will exceed $400, as St. Olaf has a policy of not removing screens from windows. Any screen removed results in a $20 fine, adding up to $400 for those responsible for the damage, as well as the cost to fix or replace the screens.

Hundreds of dollars in damage was caused to ceiling tiles, many of which were smashed completely through. “Hoyme, for some reason, has ceiling tiles that people want to bust their hands through,” McDowell said.

While campus vandalism has not increased, instances of vandalism are becoming more violent. The nature of this incident has McDowell concerned. “This is not a prank gone awry,” she said. “This is 100 percent malicious behavior.” She recalled two other instances of violent vandalism this academic year, including $900 in damage done to the Mohn Hall sign and the flooding of a floor in Rand Hall.

McDowell also said that her tolerance for instances of vandalism is dropping, mentioning her frustration at “seeing things wasted after fighting for new lights and furniture.”

Members of Hoyme's Residence Life staff also expressed disappointment about the event.

“Most of my guys are very angry about what happened,” Taylor Baggott '08, a Junior Counselor (JC) in Hoyme said. “They all miss the pop machines and microwaves. It's so tough when everyone gets punished for a few people's actions.”

Emily Ederer '08, another JC in the hall, agreed. “It was unfortunate that the vandalism occurred on the same night as the Hoyme Formal, which is a tradition,” she said, expressing pride regarding the residents’ reactions to the vandalism. “I hope that this incident does not tarnish Hoyme's reputation. It is still a great place to live," she said.

Molly Boes ‘08, another JC, shared similar feelings. “You never think that this sort of thing could happen at St. Olaf, in your own building, and when it does, you begin to question the community you are living in," she said. “Fortunately, people are beginning to take responsibility for their actions and the destruction they caused.”

McDowell expressed frustration, saying that she knows most of the Hoyme residents had nothing to do with the vandalism. “When you get this type of behavior, we ask why you are even a student here,” she said.

The St. Olaf diploma, according to McDowell, is not just about maintaining a certain GPA and successfully completing a number of classes. “The diploma is supposed to represent the type of person St. Olaf puts its name behind,” she said. “If you did this in an apartment building, you would be evicted and the police would be called.”

After last week’s announcement of a tuition increase, the thousands of dollars of vandalism angers McDowell and many others. “Increased tuition should go to upgrading computers, not for replacing [equipment damaged by instances of vandalism,]” she said.

Hoyme facilities will be gradually opened for student use under supervision and with limited hours.

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