Community Damages Charge Residents
Aaron Krish
akris821@uwsp.edu

Floor charges, more commonly known as community damages, are a measure taken by Residential Living to keep students from making a mess or damaging property in a residence hall. A charge is given to keep students responsible for their actions and to replace or repair what has been damaged.

“The main reason is to take responsibility on their floor,” said Mike Zsido, Assistant Director of Building Services. “We’re consistently educating students on unacceptable and acceptable behavior, and it’s simply not acceptable to damage university property.”

The system has a series of checks and balances to ensure that costs are going to the right people. Not everything is always charged to students living in the residence halls. Who gets charged for what is ultimately decided by the hall director, who sends it to Building Services.

“As a Hall Director, my role is to assess what the community damage is and to determine who could have caused the damage in order to charge the appropriate individuals with the damage fees,” said Hansen Hall Director Amy Mauk.

Who is charged is determined by the area in which the damage took place. Often, the staff in the residence halls will talk with residents to see if anyone knows who caused the damage.

“If we can identify an individual or individuals, then the entire wing, floor and community isn’t charged anything,” Mauk said. “And if the damage is bathroom specific, we can also narrow down the charge to either males or females.”

Often, charges are calculated for the type of service needed to clean or repair something. Zsido explained that Building Services makes a list of replacement costs, and someone is then sent to repair or clean. If additional service is needed, the residents are charged, but the university makes no money in this process.

“We are primarily concerned with the safety of the residents and respond accordingly. Custodians are called in overnight for extra cleaning if needed, but all we want to do is repair what has been damaged and bring it back as it was,” Zsido said.

Residents can come forward as the cause or witness of damage, saving their fellow residents some money by taking the blame. In Mauk’s experience, this situation rarely occurs despite the staff’s best efforts to find a culprit.

“Staff is always charged with the mission of creating an environment which makes people enjoy their living area and show respect and pride,” Mauk said. “Community damages help stop some individuals from becoming destructive or disrespectful, but sadly it is inevitable that there will be some sort of damage.”

When asked how they felt about being charged for damages in their respective residence halls, residents Pallin Allar and Erich Maas had opposite views of how such a situation should be handled.

“I think it’s silly. They don’t bother to even try to figure out who caused the damages. I know it would be pretty hard to determine, but it still isn’t fair that they just assume they can’t figure it out and just choose to make everyone pay,” Maas said.

While he feels that the policies in place are “silly,” Maas also understands why charges are distributed the way that they are, even though he knows he did not cause damage himself.

“I know they have to be sure, but I’m certain I didn’t cause any damage, yet I still get charged for it. I can’t prove it wasn’t me though, which is the problem,” Maas said.

On the other side of the spectrum, Allar has a different view on the situation.

“When I see something that I know could become a charge, I try to clean it up before someone notices, but as far as seeing them on my bill, I don’t really mind because they’re usually small enough charges,” Allar said.