Students paid over $137,000 in various dorm fines at the end of last academic year.
The end of the academic year comes with warm weather, summer plans, a break from schoolwork and, for some Ohio University students, surprise dorm damage fees.
“I was fined for improper check out procedure and not cleaning out the microwave,” Owen Weir, a sophomore studying business, said. “I also lost two keys. It came to about $315, I think. I was aware there could be fines — the RAs mentioned it — but it still surprised me.”
Weir’s $315 was part of more than $137,000 that OU students paid in dorm damage fees last year. According to the university’s Student Housing Handbook, students are responsible to pay all repair fees for any damage to their dorms, including damage to the walls or furniture, failure to properly sweep floors and wipe down furniture, or tampering with the sensor installed in the room’s microwave.
However, the handbook doesn’t specifically list the price a student might pay in each damage scenario.
“The cost of repairs is typically based on the cost of labor and materials,” Pete Trentacoste, executive director of OU Housing and Residence Life, said in an email. “The cost to repair a particular item can vary from building to building.”
Although the fees students pay for more everyday events — lockouts, item confiscations and memberships that allow them to use kitchens in their dorms —make it back in to individual residential hall accounts, damage fees go toward Housing and Residence Life revenue.
“The residence hall room damage revenue hits our revenue account, but it offsets our indirect cost and the charges from Facilities Management (vandalism charges, overtime on lock changes, etc.),” Trentacoste said in an email.
Even those students that mind the housing handbook guidelines and don’t damage their rooms could still face fines. Sarah Erickson, a senior studying visual communication, did just that after someone on her floor tipped over a washer and dryer and broke an exit sign sign.
“They didn’t know who did it, so they just fined the whole floor,” Erickson said. “It was annoying that we all had to pay for it.”
Students can avoid other fines, though.
“One of the easiest fines to avoid is an improper checkout,” Trentacoste said in an email. “When a student is ready to leave for the year, they need to meet with an RA to check out of their room and also need to clean the room.”
The handbook also recommends students only hang decorations with Command products, and specifically forbids the use of duct tape.
“Students need to use caution in hanging things on the wall as a number of products can tear at the paint, leading to repair charges at the end of the year,” Trentacoste said in an email.
If students can’t prevent the fees, it’s still possible to appeal them.
“One thing for students to know is that we do offer an appeal process in the event that students feel like they have been improperly assessed a fine for something they did not damage,” Trentacoste said in an email.