North/South Residence Hall community may be liable for missing furniture

Junior Shalee Wallace spends her Thursday afternoon studying in North/South foyer. Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh.
Junior Shalee Wallace spends her Thursday afternoon studying in North/South foyer. Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh.

On March 15, Brandon Spencer, Residential Life coordinator, sent an e-mail to the residents of North and South saying that residents could be fined for missing communal furniture. If the items are not returned by today, Residential Life may subject the residents to community billing.

During every break, Res Life conducts a furniture inspection to take account of all university furniture in residential areas.  When Res Life noticed several items missing in the North/South foyer, Spencer sent the e-mail to North and South residents.

“We were missing end-tables, wooden chairs, love seats, and a couch,” Spencer said. “You cannot take community furniture out of community space for personal use.”

Based on the board and Res Life agreement that students sign before being allowed to live in the dorms, Res Life can charge students for the missing furniture. The agreement states that communal furniture may not be moved to rooms, balconies or walkways.

“I haven’t had to charge [students] in my time at Trinity, but it isn’t uncommon,” Spencer said. “It happens at other institutions. When furniture is missing or property is vandalized and no specific person is found responsible, the community often foots the bill.”

If Res Life decides to charge students for the missing furniture, the costs will be split equally between the residents of North and South.

“Once you split the cost between all of the residents, those charges are typically only a dollar or two per person,” Spencer said.

Senior resident mentor Sal Perdomo says he never encountered problems with residents taking community furniture, but he knows that it can be a problem.

“The university puts this furniture out for the students. It’s supposed to foster a sense of community and give students a place to relax, study and gather,” Perdomo said. “When people take the furniture, it really devalues the dorm as a whole. It’s especially bad for the newer dorms that have TVs and nice couches.”

While Res Life has the right to charge residents for the missing furniture, some residents say that it is not fair to single out residents of North and South.

“The residents in North and South that didn’t take the furniture are just as innocent as other people who didn’t take the furniture, but happen to live in a different dorm,” said Dylan Holland, junior engineering major. “If the community is going to be charged for the missing furniture, the bill shouldn’t fall solely on residents of North and South.”

Spencer’s email set a return date of April 5, after which residents of North and South could be subject to community billing. However, Res Life will not necessarily choose to charge residents for the missing furniture.

“Will we charge? Personally, I doubt we will charge,” Spencer said. “But, in case we decide to charge, we have the authority and the right to do so.”