Dorm Damage is Broken

The dorms look this nice one time each year.
Last night, the fire alarm went off in Hitchcock.  Thankfully, I wasn’t there because I spend most nights with my girlfriend next door in Seelye.  In the morning, I learned that the fire alarm went off because someone had discharged a fire extinguisher (or two) in Hitchcock and sprayed noxious chemicals everywhere.  Because of this, the residents of Hitchcock had to evacuate while the fire department came to make sure everything was okay, and all residents were sent a message to dispose of bathroom supplies (razors, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, etc.).
What is the result?  The residents of Hitchcock, unless someone comes forward or is named, will be charged “dorm damage” – the costs of the cleanup plus the costs for the fire extinguishers.  This will likely be in the hundreds of dollars.  On top of this, I had to walk to CVS today and buy 36 dollars of bathroom supplies to replace the ones that were ruined.  36 dollars is a lot of money.
This unfortunate incident exposes (once again) the weakness of Amherst’s “dorm damage” program and the dormitory system as a whole.  First of all, no student should be penalized for choosing to live in one place or another.  I knew last year when I signed up to live in Hitchcock that it was a dorm populated largely by seniors and would host numerous parties and TAPs.  If I wanted to live somewhere quiet, I would have done so.  Parties are not the problem – but the level of responsibility that Amherst places on hosts is ridiculously low.  If a party is registered, the group responsible should be issued any charges necessary if there is damage or cleanup to be done.  But, as stated in the Amherst “Respect for Facilities” document, “they are financially responsible for any damages that occur within that space during the time-period allotted to them.”  Two problems arise immediately: first, parties often, if not always, spill out into hallways and bathrooms.  Second, parties often run longer than the “time allotted them.”  If RC’s and the police are not expected to closely monitor these parties, then the accountability should be widened.  Speaking of monitoring things, the document explains that charges are assessed to all members of a dormitory because each member is responsible for not only his or her own conduct but for the conduct of all other residents as well.  In the context of a large dormitory like Hitchcock, this is almost entirely impossible, not to mention if it is extended to the entire “dorm community” of the College.  I cannot be expected to leap from my bed at 12:30 in the morning before a midterm to run down the hallway and snap a picture of the dude pissing in the hallway to send off to my RC.  I also cannot be expected to sit in front of the door to Hitchcock and demand a background check on every student who enters.  The only way to solve this problem, which has, in my opinion, been offered all the leniency it is due, is by installing cameras in the dormitory hallways and/or restricting automatic entry into residence halls to people who live there.
I realize that cameras in the hallways would make it much more difficult to engage in such things as underage drinking and in-room smoking.  But – the cameras do not have to be actively monitored and can be used only when necessary to determine the identity of dorm damage offenders.  If universal entry were restricted, students would have to take active responsibility for their guests and the number of “hit-and-run” dorm damage cases would be heavily reduced.
I see no way to solve this problem apart from a heavy policing of student activities and parties.  It is unfortunate, but I have seen malicious dorm damage incidents since I was a freshman, and I am appalled at the lack of effort the college has put into solving this problem.