The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Cost of Carelessness: One Student’s Response to JB Hall Damages


As many residents of John Bertram Hall might know, the 2023-24 academic year has been full of so much damage that every single student living in the building was charged $50, whether complicit in the crimes or not. And there’s the possibility that we could get another charge. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad system; charging the entire building could motivate the perpetrators to come forward – stricken with guilt and begging to take full responsibility. Instead, I’m disappointed in the students responsible for the damages and their lack of self-control.

Yes, you. Although you probably won’t read this, others who know you might. You, who live on Bates campus housing, somehow go above and beyond to create the most challenging and unnecessary messes. I’m not talking about just one incident. It’s countless: the fire extinguisher, the tiles, the vomit tracked everywhere, the trash bags, the exit signs, and the other heinous substances left – out of your sight and mind.

Unfortunately, then it just becomes someone else’s problem. It falls to those smiling people whom you pass every day on your walk to your 8 a.m., the custodians. They’re the ones who will ask you how your day is going, chat with you about the weather, or even give you their entire life story in a matter of minutes. They are the ones who will invest their time and heart to ensure that the building is clean and a second home for the students who live there.

But because of this damage, they have been going beyond what is the “expected level of dirty” and are tasked with cleaning up the aftermath of your irresponsible decisions. Not only does this property damage cost the building and, sometimes, its residents, but it also costs the building managers their time and sanity.

Now, you might argue, “But they’re paid to clean, why should my mess be any different?” And while I see the two seconds of thought you put into that logic, I put forth the concept of being a nice person. It’s a remarkable thing, leaving a place the way you found it. Treating a shared area with respect can show the real growth that you’re expected to have when you live alone. I dare you to pull these shenanigans in your next apartment complex: it won’t fly.

Also, the multiple broken glass bottles that you crushed in the stairwell; that’s your problem. Living in a dorm or house is a privilege that sometimes is taken for granted. As Short Term approaches, I can only hope for less damage. The money charged might not seem like a lot for some, but for others, it can be an added burden. I did not expect to be charged for simply living in a residence hall.

Life happens. I’m not arguing that the beers you crushed on a Thursday night shouldn’t come back up with your Commons dinner, I’m asking you to at least try to clean up your mess the next morning. Each building should have access to a broom or dustpan and trash bags. If you don’t know where that is just ask. And if you can’t find it, file a work order.

Treat each space you enter with respect and clean up after yourself. Be cognizant of the small effort you can make to lower someone’s workload and treat these spaces with respect. These are real people you’re affecting with your carelessness and it can cost more than simply money.

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