Vandalism “creates insecurity in our communities,” official says
UVM officials (from top, right) Charles Holmes-Hope, Patricia Prelock, and Erica Caloiero describe unprecedented residence hall vandalism committed by students in an Oct. 26 video call with parents.
By Guy Page
UVM officials are blaming alcohol consumption and the pandemic lockdown for an outbreak of vandalism in residence halls estimated at over $100,000, they said in an October 26 video call to parents.
Card readers, ceiling tiles, walls, and even an elevator door have been destroyed.
“It is unlike anything we’ve seen before,” UVM Vice-Provost for Student Affairs Erica Caloiero said. She blamed “the intersection of the wrong choices and behaviors along with alcohol consumption and the accompanying disinhibition that can occur.”
Drunken, destructive behavior by young college students is not new behavior at UVM. What’s new is the scale – 450 students reportedly have been billed for damages – and the likely role of the pandemic lockdown.
“Students’ access to some social development opportunities in high school were truncated by pandemic realities,” Caloiero said. “Their access to some appropriate and typical challenges was very suddenly and very severely limited in most cases.”
What we see is that the stress seems bigger to some students and so the reaction to that stress is bigger as well,” Caloiero told parents. “Hassles and minor irritations sometimes prompt outsized reactions on our part. Venting doesn’t need to go to the place of wholesale condemnation of what may actually be a metaphorical pebble in the shoe, even if that pebble gives us a blister.”
Caloiero concluded that “it’s no longer our job to fix problems for students, but to provide the space for them to work through the problems that they encounter.”
A residential life official spoke at length about how UVM values of diversity, education and inclusion are threatened by a loss of public safety.
Damages creates insecurity to our communities,” Charles Holmes-Hope, Director of Residential Life, said. “We are trying to help our students to understand what this community means here at UVM. When we see damages in our residence halls it takes away from those opportunities that build community student agency.”
What can parents do about it? Hold their children accountable, a senior UVM VP said.
Patricia Prelock, Provost and Senior Vice-President, drew on her own experience of getting a $300 bill for vandalism committed by her own son, a UVM student, more than 20 years ago. She confronted him, he owned up to drinking, to knowing who did the vandalism, to not trying to stop it. Then she told him the first $300 from his summer job would go to repaying her.