Patching up last night’s mistakes

Townhouse ceiling damage is temporarily beautified with a mannequin arm. (Photo by James Koppelmann)

It’s a gloomy Sunday morning on Saint Michael’s campus. As the roommates of a typical townhouse on campus wake up and shake off their hangover, they soon realize the amount of damages their house has received from the night before. Dozens of fist sized holes have been blasted through the ceiling. Paint has been chipped and stained around the living room. This is a common problem among students who live on campus. According to Jim Farrington, (associate director of architectural and design services), the school accumulates $5,000-10,000 a year in damage to doors alone. This does not account for damages to the walls or ceilings.

In fear of putting in a work order that would likely result in a hefty fine for each of them, many townhouse residents start fixing the damages to the best of their ability on their own, heading down to Lowe’s to pick up sheetrock tape and paint. In fact, the scenario is so common that Lowe’s carries white and beige paint colors called “SMC Townhouse.”

Living in a townhouse allows students to learn how to cook their own meals, and begin living an adult life. But beside the normal wear and tear that a townhouse will go through, there is a lot of damage that occurs intentionally. It is a common trend for students to punch holes in the ceilings and kick holes in the drywall during a night of partying.Once a townhouse experiences damage of any kind, school protocol is to put in a work order to have it fixed. Lately many students would much rather attempt to fix this damage on their own.Broken windows, busted doors, electrical issues and plumbing problems are all examples of damages that will more than likely require a work order. Busted holes in the walls, ceilings are far more common types of damage in townhouses. “you could be a very handy person when it comes to fixing these damages but do-it-yourself fixes will be noticed and you will still be charged for the damages,” Farrington said.

“My house has experienced plenty of damage this year. We have had a two broken windows, complications with the heat, and issues with the cheap townhouse doors,” said Isaac Rumpf ’20. “For these damages we have had work orders put in and the school has taken care of it. But as for the many fist hole sized holes in the ceiling, I would rather fix these on my own. I think it is silly that the school expects us to report these types of damages.The school should push for students to clean up after their own mistakes. Holes in the drywall and ceiling are not hard to fix at all and will cost around $30 to gather the supplies you would need,” Rumpf said.

Lowes hardware in Essex, Vt. has realized there is a demographic of customers from Saint Michaels who are often looking to fix up their townhouse. There is even a specific paint type called “SMC Townhouse.” For $30 one can get a gallon of the same paint that is used in campus townhouses.
Many students have taken up the do-it-yourself approach. “We go to a school full of future engineers, businesses workers, doctors, etcetera,” said Nolan Cary ’20. “Who is to say that we are not capable of fixing a simple hole in the wall?”

“We are mostly concerned about these things because these townhouses have been here for a long time and will hopefully be here in the future,” said Lou DiMasi, director of residence life and assistant dean of students. “Students must put in work orders to make sure these damages are fixed properly. We can not allow for damages to be fixed in a less than adequate manner,” DiMasi said.

At the end of the academic year there will be an evaluation of the townhouses and any damages will be held financially responsible to the students. Damages that are left in the house, along with botched fix jobs, will result in a fine to the residents.