On one brisk October morning, I was walking back from Fireside to the back of Castleton Hall, taking my usual route to that stairwell. I had just gotten out of class and it was a beautiful fall day. But something didn’t seem right when I rounded the corner to the back of the dormitory and found one of the rugs from inside the stairwell covered in purple splotches of paint. I thought that maybe someone had accidentally spilled paint on just the one rug and that the janitors were making sure paint wasn’t tracked in everywhere.
I dismissed it and carefully walked around it and to the back entrance. I swiped my card, opened the door and was about to enter the building when I heard, “You can’t come in here for a couple more hours.” It was a man in a white suit, cleaning products and rags in hand, standing in front of one huge mess. He didn’t look too happy and I realized that the rug wasn’t the only thing covered in paint.
Before I could mumble, “Sorry,” and go back the way I came, I saw that someone had thrown green paint all the way down the first floor stairs and all over the walls. It seems they also wanted to mix up their color scheme a little bit, so they had thrown purple paint onto the higher walls, leaving an artful splatter painting on the white brick. It was also all over the floor.
Later that day when I went to my afternoon classes, I overheard my fellow classmates complaining. The word on the street was that Castleton Hall residents were going to be charged for the vandalism. I dismissed it as only a rumor, thinking that the college wouldn’t actually charge us if they didn’t know who perpetrated the crime.
For a couple days, it was just a rumor. Then Sunday came and on everyone’s suite door in Castleton Hall there was a notice informing us that of a meeting in the Multi-Purpose Room at 8 p.m. The charge? Three-thousand two-hundred dollars. And it was to be split among all residents to the tune of $23.60 each. Outrage ensued. I told my suitemates what I found and all were adamant they weren’t going to pay. Even if it was only $23.60, it was the principle of the matter.
One of the CA’s of Castleton Hall, Jess Berry, gave me the facts when I asked about what exactly happened that fateful night. He said sometime between the hours of 1:30 and 3 a.m. on Oct. 23, someone went into the cleaning closet on the third floor, found the paint and put it all over the walls in the back stairwell.
“It was estimated to cost about $3,200 and split between residents, because no one confessed, it would cost us each $23.60,” he said.
But Berry said CA’s received multiple complaints from residents about the proposed fines, but since no one confessed, there was no one to pin the blame on and therefore someone had to pay for it. In addition, there was also a notice out for some stolen exit signs that someone carried off that week. But again, no one was coming forward.
Later that week after the meeting, however, there was yet another notice posted all over the stairwells that informed residents that they weren’t going to be charged for the vandalism. The notification also said the exit sign thief had returned them. Nothing in the memo, though, pointed to why the proposed fee went away, but it did say that if anyone committed anymore vandalism crimes, then residents would have to bare the brunt of the charges.
Apparently not all residents got the message, because a couple days later when I walked down the stairwell and came through the elevator doors, I saw a quaint little message written in charcoal artfully on one of the walls: WEED 4 LYFE. Luckily, it was easy to clean up and we weren’t charged.