Crescent resident Joseph Ugalde walked into his living room early one morning to find that a strange, comfy chair had appeared in his suite overnight. He quickly learned that his suitemates had taken this chair from the lounge area in the building.
This is one of various incidents involving missing lounge furniture and wet floor signs in the Crescent and Westview residence halls. However, most of the facilities property was given back after Residence Hall Director Michael Guthrie warned students through email on Nov. 5 that they may be subject to random room checks if the property was not returned. According to Guthrie, Residential Life will no longer need to search students’ rooms since the items have been returned.
Ugalde said his suitemates decided to return the chair after learning through the email that they would go through the conduct process and be fined if missing items were found in their room.
“It was the fact that they were going to bring us through the conduct process,” he said. “It was a little intimidating, I’ll admit.”
According to Chief of Public Safety David Barger, this is not the first time students have taken facilities’ property.
“We know that, at times, furniture is misappropriated within a residential hall and eventually when [Residential Life] does health and safety checks, that furniture usually turns up,” Barger said. “I don’t want to say this is a common occurrence, but it does occur.”
In this case, and in other instances where facilities’ property had been taken from residence halls, Public Safety often does not get involved, Barger explained.
“Is it larceny? Is it theft? By the letter of the law, technically it is because it is misappropriation of property, but here we handle it a little differently and let the Office of Residential Life handle it,” Barger said.
However, junior Lisa Copland disagreed with how Residential Life handled the situation, especially with the warning that residence halls could be searched.
“I feel like it is extreme,” Copland said. “They should trust people to not have [the property] or trust people to actually come forward with it. They should say how much they are going to search, rather than saying, ‘Oh, we are going to do random room searches and kind of search wherever.’”
Ugalde agreed and thought Residential Life took the issue a little too seriously.
“I thought they completely overreacted. I wish they had dedicated less time to this whole situation,” Ugalde said. “In all honesty, I feel like we pay enough money, the least I can get out of it is a reclining chair.”
Although both Ugalde and Copland said that people do not use the chairs in the common areas often, Barger felt that when students bring the furniture into their own suites, they are hurting everyone else.
“I would hope that the students, being made aware of the situation [and] having an appreciation for the community, would return that furniture and those signs,” Barger said. “It is for the greater good of the community and we hope those students appreciate that because how would they want to be treated?”