By JENNA SKARLUPKA, News Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Western Illinois University students who live on campus were charged at the beginning of the semester for various fees for damages found in their residence halls.
If they’re not careful, they may have to pay community fines later on.
Community fines are charged when damages occur to public property outside of individual rooms beyond normal wear and tear, either by direct action or unsanitary substances. The fines are added up throughout the semester and charged at the end. If the parties responsible for the damage don’t come forward, fees are divided amongst the students living in the area where the damage occurred, such as a certain floor, wing or building.
Mishelle Oaks, director of residence life at WIU, said damage caused to elevators, lounges, bathrooms and more can result in charges if they add to a certain amount. If a fee comes out to $5 or less, students won’t be charged, but continual fees for hourly cleaning rates or broken items can quickly cost more.
“One-time damage is not going to be that detrimental to a community,” Oaks said. “When they compile several damages, that is going to add up and will get divided out and put on a student account.”
Corbin Hall residents received notification that they could soon face fines for the removal of ID scanners from their hall’s stairwell in early October. WIU student Mya Mays said it’s a safety hazard.
“I grabbed it (a scanner) to see how easy it would be to rip it off, and it’s not easy,” Mays said. “It’s just like a safety hazard because anyone could go to that floor and do whatever they want.”
Oaks said it’s hard to get students to take responsibility for building fines, but general damages have gone down since students can provide information anonymously and have become “more aware and more conscious.”
“We’ve had a student break something and come forward saying it was them, and so we appreciate that, because they could fly under the radar and the whole floor could be charged,” Oaks said.
While some damage is accidental, Mays said students should remain considerate of other residents.
“People should just think before they do, and not just of themselves all the time, because you’re really doing something that could badly harm others,” Mays said.
For more information on community fines, students can attend their floor meetings, review their housing contract and read page 17 of the Residence Hall Student Handbook. http://www.wiu.edu/student_services/housing/living_on_campus/pdf/ResidenceHallHandbook2020.pdf