Vandalism in Wyoming Hall disrupts residents, leads to greater presence of university police

Incidents of vandalism have greatly increased in Wyoming Hall (pictured above), have caused issues for residents and RAs. The damage has also created frustration for residents as well as administrators. (Kenji Nagayoshi/Staff Photographer).

Residents of Wyoming Hall were notified via email from Area Coordinator of Wyoming, Allegany and Genesee Marissa Reed Schlitter on Nov. 27 about a number of acts of vandalism and maintenance concerns that had occurred in the building during the course of last month. 

The community living concerns email outlines these acts of vandalism; these incidents include a compost bucket dumped into a dryer, a pumpkin placed in a washing machine, a turkey thrown down the stairs, paint and milk spilled on a stairwell and eggs smashed on a window inside the hall. 

Coordinator of Student Life for Housing Operations Taylor Gale explained how vandalism is handled when perpetrated in the residence halls. 

“Normally if we find something out, resident assistants write up an incident report that documents what they saw happen and any details they may have,” Gale said. “It is not always the RAs who come across damages like this, often the custodial staff of the building will as well, and they file a similar report and put in a work order. Regardless, various people are notified including the conduct office and University police.” 

According to the community living concerns email sent to students, further action has been taken and the third-floor laundry room is now offline. UPD does additional rounds in the building and they are called for all future vandalism issues and students may be questioned accordingly. 

“There is a trend of these vandalism type incidents in Wyoming and that explains the further measures taken,” Gale said. “The AC Melissa sent out an email to the residents of the building, encouraging students to please come forward with any information they might have especially because we feel that things of that nature are fairly noticeable.” 

In her email to residents, Schlitter explains that these incidents pose safety threats to students, but also create additional financial burdens for the college. If these incidents continue, Schlitter noted that the college may charge the entire residence hall a damage fee. 

“In the case of the pumpkin incident, an incident report was filed and the only evidence was the pumpkin found in the washing machine,” Gale said. “There was a decent amount of property damage done to the building, as the washing machines in the residence halls cost up to $1,200.” 

Furniture has also been overturned and removed from the common areas in the building, an AED machine and fire alarm were tampered with and the main doors to the building were pulled on and forced back and forth quickly resulting in a forced entry, according to the community living concerns email. 

“We try and initiate a dialogue between the students and the AC to find the person or people involved in the incident,” Gale said. “We simply want what is best for the safety of the students who live in that building. We do not enjoy taking measures of punishment such as locking certain facilities, and we realize that this poses an inconvenience to students.” 

When faced with vandalism, Gale said that the college chooses to respond actively. 

“If we notice vandalism and it makes students feel unsafe, we ask that UPD makes their presence known in that building by doing extra rounds for example,” Gale said. 

“Not only does their presence add another layer of safety, but also so they play a role in trying to help us figure out who is involved in the vandalism.”

“On a three-year basis, Chief of University Police Thomas Kilcullen estimates that there is an average of 60 vandalism cases per year,” according to an article regarding vandalism on campus published in The Lamron in 2017.

Resident of Wyoming sophomore Connor Widmaier explained his frustration regarding the vandalism and behevior perpetrated by the vandals.

“Wyoming has seen an unreasonable amount of disrespectful actions from its residents this semester,” Widmaier said.

“I am concerned how these students seemingly have the maturity level of a middle schooler yet will be expected to live off campus next [year.] I hope these students take time to reflect on the ways in which they have made our campus community a worse place by acting like children.”

Other students, including business administration major sophomore Joshua Schenker, believe the incidents have negative impacts on residents.

“While funny, I think it’s inconsideration to everyone else living in Wyoming since the third floor doesn’t have a laundry room anymore,” Schenker said.

He added that certain repercussions that might be instituted as a result are an inconvenience to students that have not contributed to the issue.

“UPD now has to do extra rounds and the ARD has stated that if nobody comes forward about these and future vandalisms, all residents in Wyoming will get fined which is unfair to students, especially those who cannot afford it,” Schenker said.

Schlitter explains that she was able to identify the culprit of the issue with the compost bucket in the dryer and one of the issues involving missing furniture, according to her email.

“At minimum, the students involved in the vandalism of Wyoming will have to go through our conduct office and have a conversation with their AC and Nate Pietropaolo, our Assistant Dean of Students for Student Conduct and Community Standards,” Gale said. “There is no uniform punishment for these incidents, so an outcome will be determined based on the students’ conversation with Nate and what he feels is the appropriate way to proceed.”

News editor Zainab Tahir contributed reporting to this article