Students could face damage fine for broken sink in snyamncut hall

By Aaron Bocook, News Writer

Residents of snyamncut, EWU’s new residence hall, grow restless as they wait to find out if a fine for damages will be applied equally to all residents of the building’s third floor.

Barbara Ratcliff, associate director of Housing and Residential Life for business operations, said in early November 2013, the metal basin of a sink in the communal kitchen on the third floor was broken apart from the counter, and the faucet was damaged as well.

The damage was assessed by EWU’s maintenance team, as well as the contractors still working on the building. They said it had been hit with enough force to break the industrial silicon epoxy seal which held the metal basin of the sink in place.

“Our preference when something like this happens is to have the individual, or the group of people, to take responsibility for it and to pay for the damage,” Ratcliff said.

Housing and Residential Life gave staff and students some time to identify who was responsible.

Ratcliff said CAs began to communicate with residents of the hall, and based on rumors that have been circulating, there was a sense that at least some students knew what happened.

Sophomore Rina Soriano, a resident on the floor, said she heard there was some kind of party in the kitchen, and while some people were roughhousing, they broke the sink.

Junior McKenzie Williams, another third-floor resident, said she heard the roughhousing story too, along with a rumor that it was simply an accident, and a claim that the sink was not properly installed.

Nobody came forward to claim responsibility, nor did any witnesses surface.

In the student damages section of the housing contract, it states that each student is responsible and liable for his or her prorated share of the university’s cost for replacement or repair for damage to the structure or furnishings.

However, damages in communal areas may result in an equal assessment of damage charges to  members living within the community, or appropriate members, as determined by the university.

Ratcliff said that residence halls are all set up a little bit differently, and in snyamncut, each floor is considered a contained community area.

Each floor of snyamncut holds up to 88 residents. Housing determined that 75-78 students were living on the third floor last November.

If nobody comes forward, every student living on the third floor at the time of the incident will be charged an equal portion for repair of the damages to the sinks.

The original damage estimate seemed high. Ratcliff said the rates of the contractors are higher and less specific than EWU’s in-house maintenance.

She said housing is working on getting the rate reduced, but even at the current cost, students on the third floor will only be facing a fine of about $5 each. Ratcliff said a lot of students just wanted to get it out of the way and pay it.

Soriano and Williams both said that they will pay if they have to. But are frustrated that nobody has come forward.

“I would be upset. I’d probably just pay it,” Soriano said. “Sometimes I wonder, ‘How do we even know it’s someone from our own floor?’” She said if the whole hall was charged, it would only be a few cents each instead of $5 for just her floor.

“In all aspects, I guess it is fair if no one comes forward,” Williams said. “But it’s kind of frustrating that people won’t take responsibility. I will probably pay it, but it’s just the aspect of having to pay it.”

“We’re not trying to be punitive,” Ratcliff said. “We just want people to take responsibility in their community.”

She said that the fine has not been issued yet, and there is still time for the responsible party to come forward.