Opinion: ASU should not charge student housing residents a collective fee for damages

ASU recently told Tooker House residents via email that it would charge “the entire building” for damages totaling about $10,000 if it can’t find the individual culprits. This is a gross example of ASU, which has historically neglected its dormitories, using its power to demand damages from students, which pales in comparison to problems the university itself has not addressed.

A written statement to The State Press from ASU spokeswoman Gabby Kemp said, “When students sign a license agreement with ASU, they agree to abide by ASU and University Housing policies. One of these policies … indicates that students in the community can be charged for harm done to the community.’

“I don’t think it’s fair because I didn’t disgrace the building. I haven’t done anything negative to (residence) to affect it,” said Trey Hoffman, a Tucker House resident and freshman studying mechanical engineering.

The residents of Taker House should not have to collectively pay for the damage to the dorm building, and ASU students and residents should demand that the university stop behaving like an all-powerful landlord that cares more about bottom lines than community health.

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“I clean once a week and I’ve never messed anything up, so why should I have to pay for someone else’s mistakes?” – said Hoffman.

According to the email, the damage includes “exit signs that have been removed or destroyed, ceiling damage, light covers removed from lights and no signs in residential areas,” along with trash and spills throughout the building.

The letter then ends with a reminder to residents: “Please remember that not only YOU presentation of myself and YOURS community, YOU are a representation of Tucker House and The Fulton Schools of Engineers. Please remember to respect yourselves, each other and the goods in your community because it is ours AT HOME”.

The situation would be different if ASU didn’t have the resources to address this problem, but the school certainly does. There are many resources that ASU can draw upon to repair damage to dormitories and invest in preventative efforts to prevent further vandalism.

First, ASU’s endowment has surpassed $1.25 billion, according to a press release from March of this year. The report does not include student housing as a donation priority. ASU should reach out to the investors who monitor their endowment and make it clear that student housing must be a priority.

In addition to endowments, ASU invests millions of dollars in its revenue-generating athletic programs such as football and basketball. ASU is expected to pay its former head football coach Herm Edwards about $4.4 million through 2024.

It cannot be emphasized enough that Edwards no longer has any role on the football team and the university is paying him millions of dollars while the students are being told they must collectively pay “10k+” for the dorm damage. This is outrageous.

That’s not to mention ASU President Michael Crowe’s own salary, which is $771,282. If Crowe were to earn what the average university professor earns, which is $123,300, that would free up nearly $650,000 for other expenses such as dormitory reimbursements and general student welfare.

If Crowe were a compassionate university leader, he would be willing to take a pay cut. After all, he is still the chairman of the CIA’s venture capital firm; that salary, the Phoenix Business Journal reports, is likely to be enough to offset a much lower base salary.

Unfortunately, it seems that Crowe and the university are not receptive to their students, and this is not a new phenomenon. The ASU community has accused ASU of neglecting its dormitories after mold was suspected in Vista del Sol, Palo Verde West and Jasayampa. ASU denied the allegations and refused to do anything about them.

ASU’s history of placing a financial burden on student renters and neglecting dormitories fits into the larger context of how housing works in the U.S.

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Housing is largely a private sector enterprise, and landlords in many US states can pass on pest control and other living expenses to tenants through leases. It may take a major change in housing policy in the US to significantly reverse the housing dilapidation at ASU.

ASU students should demand that ASU not only pay for the damage to Tooker House, but also compensate for the previous negligence in the construction of the dormitory and re-prioritize resources so that student housing allows students to thrive.

Edited by Sadie Bugle, Watt Myska, and Kristen Apolina Castillo.

Contact the columnist at [email protected] and subscribe @StigileAaron on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not imply any endorsement by The State Press or its editors.

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Aaron StigillColumnist’s opinion

Aaron Stigill is an opinion columnist for The State Press. He previously wrote for The Defiant Movement and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He is also working on a minor in Spanish and a certificate in cross-sectoral leadership.

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