A name in this story has been changed to protect the identity of a student who received a Student Conduct Code violation.
This time, light bulbs aren’t a symbol of a good idea. Some residents broke an undisclosed number of hallway lights in the Glass and Henley residence halls, according to an email from Residence Life earlier this month.
Facilities Management reported the first broken light in Henley Hall in October, but more were broken this semester, when two to three were smashed one night in Henley. After the incidents continued, an email was sent to students living in the halls that said they could all be charged if the perpetrators didn’t come forward.
“A vast majority of the time, incidents of broken property are the result of an accident,” Dave Sundby, the director of residence life and first year experience, told The Panther. “It’s when we start to see consistent patterns and we need to understand what’s happening that we send a community-wide email.”
Cole, a Henley Hall resident who broke one of the lights, spoke to The Panther under the condition of anonymity to avoid further repercussions. He and his friends were under the influence of alcohol one day during the final week of January, and were agitated after learning that their female friend had been treated poorly by a man, Cole said.
Although Cole watched his two other friends punch out light covers, it wasn’t until he was walking back to his room alone that he angrily hit one himself.
“It wasn’t for the attention of anyone,” Cole said. “I felt justified because other people (punched the lights too). Even though it was a stupid decision, (being charged and having a conduct code violation) does a lot more damage to me than it does to the school.”
After being turned in by an anonymous source, Cole met with Alex Hart, the resident director of Henley Hall, and separately with the judicial board of his fraternity, who requested he attend weekly counseling to give him other ways to manage anger.
The decision to charge residents reflected the guidelines written in the Resident License Agreement that all incoming residents signed, Sundby said. After the emails were sent out, students began to come forward with information, and Residence Life spoke with the accused students.
“(The conversations) are meant to be engaging and educational, not to be a ‘shame on you,’” Sundby said. “I don’t want (the conversations) to come across as threatening or overbearing, but it is really important that we talk about accountability with students.”
Residents who confessed to damaging the lights will be charged a $120 fee to replace them. Sundby said that if all the individuals responsible for the damage are not confirmed, Residence Life will issue a community-wide charge.
“I think it would have been unfair to blame everyone for something that one person should be at fault for,” said Nancy Mogy, a freshman communication studies major who lives in Henley Hall. “It’s like a teacher failing everyone in a class because of one bad student.”
Liam Tangum, a Glass Hall resident advisor, recalled different versions of the story about the lights.
“I heard that there were three (broken lights), but I also heard that there were six,” he said. “I’ve been made aware that people in our hall do play hockey from time to time, but I don’t know if that was a cause (of the damage).”
The investigation is still open. Nathan Worden, the Glass Hall resident director, declined to comment.
“We want students and residents to be invested (in the upkeep of their residence halls),” Sundby said. “At the end of the day, this is your home.”
Clarification: An earlier version of this story said that a community-wide charge could not be justified. Sundby was referring to another institution that implemented a similar policy to give an example of when Chapman would not issue a community-wide charge. This information has been clarified.