McAuley freshmen fight against damage fine

Freshman students who live in the south wing of the third floor of McAuley Hall are still dealing with a flooding incident that occurred on Feb. 13.

The flooding occurred after someone clogged the sinks with paper towels and left the water running.

A few days after this incident, the hall director and resident assistants (RAs) asked the residents to bring forward any information regarding who was responsible. The residents were warned they may be charged if no one spoke up, according to Assistant Director of Residence Life and Student Conduct Jessica Provenzano.

Since no one came forward with information, the residents of the wing were each charged $30. The students were billed on March 16, which was during the second week of spring term.

“The decision to fine the students is a mutual decision between housekeeping, maintenance and residence life,” said Provenzano. “The actual cost of the fine and what it covered was to pay for the outside contractor that was hired to come in and extract the water from the carpet.”

Despite being warned of a fine, the students were not notified they were actually being charged.

“The only reason I found out was when I went to financial services and they said there was a $30 charge,” freshman David Bott said. “My RA didn’t even know. So if they are going to fine us, they might have the decency to let us know they officially will be, instead of just placing it on our bill.”

Provenzano cited the student handbook as justification for the fine.

According to the handbook, “Damage done to common areas (lounges, stairwells, etc.) is assessed to the smallest, most likely group of residents possible when it cannot be determined who caused the damage. Damage in a residence will be assessed equally to all occupants unless a statement is received by the Residence Life Office indicating who is accepting responsibility.”

“When students sign their housing contract they agree to this,” Provenzano said.

The freshmen who are being fined have an issue with being classified as the “most likely group of residents.”

“I don’t understand why we would be charged for something we clearly have no benefit of doing,” freshman Eric Pelosi said.

Bott questioned why his wing has to pay when these residents are the ones who had to clean up the flooding.

“There doesn’t seem to be much reason as to why they chose to fine us for the flooding,” said Bott. “We were the ones who had to deal with the flooding the most, as our hallway and some of the rooms were flooded. When it happened, we were the ones who cleaned up most of it, with the help from some other kids on other floors.”

“We do not know who did it, so it’s unfair to punish the floor because we may all be innocent,” Bott said.

Freshman Brett Ambrose was in Pittsburgh during the incident, but he is being fined the $30 as well.

Provenzano said she was not aware students were out of town when the flooding occurred.

Because the freshmen think they are being punished unfairly, Pelosi wrote a petition appealing the fine. Nineteen freshmen from the south wing signed it.

One student refused. He is the only one who paid the fine.

“I took the initiative of starting the petition,” said Pelosi. “We were upset about being charged $30 for something we didn’t do.”

Pelosi gave the petition to a secretary in Residence Life on April 6 because Provenzano was out of town. No one has since contacted him about it.

“A decision has not yet been made on what will happen with the fine, which is why a response has not been granted yet,” Provenzano said.

If a decision is not made soon, the freshmen who have not paid will not be permitted to register for fall term classes.