Indiana Wesleyan University resident directors started health and safety checks Wednesday night, Dec. 11, just two weeks after their last inspections.
As students prepared for the next round of health and safety checks, some remained bitter about the results of the last one.
During Thanksgiving break, some students suffered from what they called unjust fines.
On the Sunday ending break, Molly Tullis (so) returned to her room in Beckett Hall to find a total of $75 in fines between her and her suitemates. Among these were a $10 fine for not vacuuming “enough” and not having cleaned the mirror “enough.”
Tullis has received a fine after every health and safety check since her freshman year, and she even refers to herself as “a clean, OCD-kind of person.”
In Scripture Hall, Grant Keaffaber (so) and his roommates received a $25 fine for not properly assembling their Christmas lights. Keaffaber had strung the lights throughout the room, and one of the strands hung about an inch below his bedroom door frame.
According to the RD’s note detailing Keaffaber’s fine, “the lights must be over doorframe in case of fire or smoke-filled room.” However, Keaffaber said he was the tallest resident in his suite, and his head is “not even close” to the hanging lights.
Keaffaber appealed to his resident director, who reduced the fine to $10.
Scripture Resident Director Ian Slater explained that three major categories of the health and safety checks regard stewardship issues, sanitation issues and safety issues.
Some students, however, don’t think their fines fit into these categories.
“The things that they fined us on were not things that were structurally damaging to the room, permanent damage to the room, or anything that was a safety or fire hazard,” Tullis said. “Not having … vacuumed enough or having toothpaste on your mirror does not affect my ability to leave the room in the case of an emergency.”
In addition, Tullis said the vacuums in Beckett are “terrible” and that in order to avoid a $10 fine, one must purchase $50-$75 vacuum on his or her own.
“We felt … like we were just being exploited for pocket change for the university,” Tullis said.
Associate Vice President for Residence Life Bronson Pasko said fines for health and safety checks are standardized and RDs do not actually determine the amount of money they fine a resident for a particular violation.
Pasko said RDs follow a list of particular violations and their fines, which they then try to match up with the violations they find in a dorm room.
In the case of more ambiguous violations, Slater said it’s up to an RD’s “personal interpretation or judgment” on whether or not to fine.
He said the main reason why some RDs fine students for “not cleaning enough” is because “there are cases where ‘not clean enough’ is going to equal potential property damage.”
For example, not having cleaned the shower enough could cause potential mold issues later on, he said.
“I think students don’t realize often the rationale behind why we do [health and safety checks],” Slater said.
Slater compared the situation to apartment living. When one rents an apartment, he or she pays a housing deposit, which is later reimbursed if the resident doesn’t damage the room.
The essence of residence life is to do things in intentional and educational ways, Slater said.
He also said fine money goes into an agency account for the specific hall. This money is then “only to be spent for the general facilities and the general well-being of the building.”
It does not go to staff pay, according to Slater.
For students suffering from financial troubles, Slater said they can do community service work for the dorm in place of the fine.
Either way, the consequences of the fines go back to benefiting the well-being of the hall.
“I am very comfortable with, up to this point, how resident directors have handled [health and safety checks],” Pasko said. “I know they’re intentional about it … It’s something that they always want clarification on. It keeps me aware of the things that I can do better.”
Pasko is in charge of the policies and student handbook and said his priority for the 2014-2015 school year is the make the handbook easier to understand.
To do this, Pasko and an appointed resident director are in the process of going through “every inch” of the residence hall section of the handbook to make sure it’s “clear, understood and enforceable.”
This would include information on health and safety checks.
As for this week’s health and safety checks, students are preparing their rooms similar to how they did two weeks ago. Only this time, the rooms will stay vacant for more than three weeks, as opposed to three days.
Students can check for fines when the dorms open back up Saturday, Jan. 4.