Early notification can alleviate term bill surprises

Almost all of us have received bills for dorm damage in some form or another. Some of the charges are attributed directly to us, but the majority of the fees are small ones charged to everyone in a dorm because no one came forth to claim responsibility or because a resident counselor (RC) couldn’t figure out who was the culprit. Someone has to get charged, so the “blame” gets diffused across the entire dorm. Sure, it’s not the end of the world when one is charged $0.86 for someone else’s party cleanup, but it’s definitely annoying. We realize trying to assign dorm damage to the right person can put an RC in an uncomfortable position. However, we urge all RCs to sincerely put forth their best efforts to pin the tail on the right donkey.

Sometimes, however, dorm damage is going to get distributed to everyone. It happens, and we can accept that. What we are unwilling to accept are surprises. Often, the only time we are notified of dorm damage is when we receive a bill at the end of the semester, or better yet, when the bill goes home and we have to answer to angry, confused parents who don’t understand why another student’s party foul could end up on our tab.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew ahead of time what was going to pop up on our term bills? Would it really impose an impossible burden on the housing office, physical plant and our RCs if they informed students of the fees being assessed in a timely and regular manner? Occasionally, someone tapes a small piece of paper on a door as notification of damage fees, but these easily-overlooked postings don’t quite do the job. When a fee is assessed, residents should be notified via email, in as timely a manner as possible.

Not only would quick email notification prevent end-of-the-semester surprises, but it would allow us to register legitimate appeals in accordance with the school’s appeals process. Notification of charges months after the damaged occurred is far too late to even attempt an appeal, which as the housing regulations page says, should be made “within seven days of billing and in writing, stating their reasons for appeal.” It is safe to say that notification after three or four months cancels out any hope of making an effective appeal.