Editorial: Forced to pay undeserved fines

Generally, students are pretty careful about how they behave. But sometimes they can cause trouble in their residence halls, breaking appliances, scribbling graffiti and stealing objects, among other things. When it comes time to fix or replace what has been damaged or stolen, someone has to pay for it. Rider charges students for the damage done to the buildings they live in. However, students don’t see why they should have to pay for something they didn’t do. If someone has to pay for it, it should be the person causing the damage, not the group of people closest to the scene of the crime.

Even though students in the building can be released from paying the fine if someone confesses, it is highly  unlikely that will happen.

But when people make mistakes, there should be consequences. If something happens that only a certain wing could have done, then it makes sense to charge a single wing for the damage. For instance, if something is found in a bathroom, only charge the wing or wings that use that bathroom. Residents on the third floor of a building shouldn’t be forced to pay a fine for something that occurred in a first-floor bathroom. Even though Rider wants its students to behave like one big community, no one wants to pay for damage his or her distant neighbor caused after a late night of partying.

But what if the damage isn’t even done by someone who lives in the residence hall, or who isn’t even a Rider student? One student said that someone from outside damaged the kitchen of her building, and she and every other resident had to pay for what was done. In this case, charging residents doesn’t make sense.

As of now, Rider has a minimum for fining students. If there is a fine, each student needs to pay at least $5 towards correcting the problem. Any money left over after a repair is made goes into a fund for making other repairs to the building. So, if there are 200 residents in a building, then that is an automatic $1,000 that the school can use to make necessary repairs.

Charging students for damage is bad publicity for the university. It doesn’t look good for the school if it doesn’t know who is doing the damage, so it tries to solve the problem by charging everyone. Often, the first time these charges are discovered is when a bill is opened by parents. Many students report that their parents don’t question the high cost of tuition, only the $35 in “dorm damages.” Parents ask questions, and sometimes seem suspicious about students’ claimed innocence.

As of now, students are charged the most if an item is damaged that the whole building uses, such as a broken television or ruined couch in the lounge. The school should consider installing security cameras in areas that are likely to sustain damage, like in those lounges, as well as in hallways and kitchens. Having security cameras would improve the situation greatly. Students would be less likely to cause trouble if they knew that a camera was recording. Also, the correct student could be fined for what he or she did because the crime would be caught on tape.

Rider should think about having a security deposit of about $50 per student in the future. At the end of the year, students would get the deposit back, depending on whether or not they were involved in any damage. Or, create a rewards system for halls with the least amount of damage. Give students incentives to keeping their halls in top shape. It would go a long way.

This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.

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