It was a hot summer morning and the week was looking promising with the upcoming midweek celebration of the Fourth of July, until I received an email from Fairfield University. The subject line rapidly deflated my good mood: 2017-18 Student Damage Bills. I had hope that the bill would be minimal as my roommates and I took very good care of townhouse 141. We cleaned regularly and did not host wild parties or tear down doors in the name of fun. After logging into my Fairfield account, however, I could not believe the charges totaled $66.70. The charges included $25 for a bent blind, $12.50 for screen damage, $14.60 for a desk and $14.60 for a dresser not being empty.
These fees are egregious. After a bit of online research, it became evident that blinds bend over their normal usage and are very easy to fix. Suggestions include replacing the bent blind with an extra one at the bottom or purchasing similar blinds at Blinds Max for around $25. I do not know where Fairfield is buying $100 blinds ($25 from each of the four roommates) that bend so easily over the course of two semesters. I also found simple, cost-effective methods for fixing a screen. In particular, attaching a mesh patch that costs between $2-$7. Again, $50 is unreasonable.
Now, let’s turn to this pesky desk. If the problem with the desk was the location and not the need to replace it, how can moving a desk cost $58.40 ($14.60 from each of the four roommates)? If Fairfield needs a hand moving a desk, I am certain my roommates would do so for much less. Another solution is an organization called Task Rabbit, which specializes in helping clients move furniture. The service is organized like Uber and the cost range from $20-$30 per hour in the Fairfield area for “heavy lifting tasks.” Moving one desk should take no more than one hour and this cost is still much less than $58.40.
Lastly, the bill for the items left behind in the dresser were split between me and my direct roommate for a sum total of $29.20. I do not know what was left behind, but I would gamble that the value of the item is below the removal cost. Does it really cost $29.20 to chuck a t-shirt or used notebook? In total, the University is asking my roommates and I to pay $237.60. If you were to take that money to McDonald’s, you could enjoy lot of Big Macs.
When I returned to campus for the fall semester, I could not believe my eyes: townhouses in blocks 13, 14, and 15 were remodeled and given a facelift. Understandably, those who lived in a room or house are responsible for any damages incurred; however, it is illogical to repair blinds that are already being replaced due to renovation plans. Regardless, I sincerely hope the new residents enjoy the $100 blinds. Be forewarned, do not let them bend!
I am not alone. 82 current sophomores, juniors and seniors responded to a survey I created. The survey, which was provided to students via Facebook class pages, asked for information on where the student lived during the 2017-2018 school year, if they were fined for any room damages, and if so, how much for the fines. The survey also asked if the student studied abroad. Based on the data collected, Fairfield fined 82 students $2,723.32 for room damage. Now that is a ton of Big Macs. I don’t even want to imagine how high the damage bill is for all Fairfield students combined.
57 percent of students who lived on campus during the 2017-2018 school year were charged for room damages. The data shows that the average value reported was $77.81 and the highest room damage bill exceeded $250. It is also noteworthy that students who reportedly studied abroad were less likely to be fined. The survey found that 42 percent of students who studied abroad were fined for room damages. This means by staying on campus for both semesters, there is a 15 percent higher probability of being billed for room damages. Perhaps, this is the ultimate selling point for studying abroad.
Some may argue that college students complain too much, but this is not a complaint. It is a criticism about how the University seemingly strays from its core values. How is overcharging students acting as men and women for others? How is overcharging students demonstrating cura personalis? It’s not.