- Published on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 17:23
- Written by Candice Land
Conflict has arisen between Student Housing and residence students regarding fines.
Abigail Edwards has brought forth her case of a R750 fine for a stained mattress that she claims not to have damaged. Baxter Hall offered no proof of the stain. In addition, an unspecified fine of R75 was charged. This was later determined to be due to neglecting to rehang curtains before leaving the residence.
Edwards emailed a list of points to Student Housing, stating her case and thereby her innocence. She highlighted the ease of intrusion during the chaos of moving out at the end of first semester and thereby the potential swap of the mattress.
She also made note of the fact that groups of people use the residences as a form of accommodation during the June/July vacation period.
Edwards described the response she received from student housing as “a cold come-back” and she elaborated by saying, “I am highly frustrated that they are not dealing with the issue in a professional manner, as replies are slow and they totally ignored my points of defence.” The fine remains unpaid and 10% interest is added per month.
Desmond Williams from Student Housing explained that an inventory form is filled out by students to claim any damages prior to the start of the academic year. This room assessment is then compared to the state of the room at the end of the year and any infringement found is then liable for a fine.
The money accrued from student fines is used either for the replacement of damaged items or is added to a general account used for residence maintenance. No personal profit is therefore made from the fines.
Edwards’ case is not the only example of controversial fines in residence. A Tugwell Hall student was mistakenly fined R500 in 2011. When she investigated the case, she was told that the fine had been assigned to the wrong room number by accident.
The same student was fined a further amount for not returning her emergency light that she had ticked off on the return list. After much deliberation, the Residence Facilities Officer (RFO) said that it would be removed from her student account. The fine, however, is still reflected against her name.
Williams said that “it is the student’s responsibility to check it.” The RFO of the residence is responsible for detection of any damage and uses a set system of fining to add an amount to the student’s account.
There is a rule-book and posters that make the students aware of their responsibilities are hung up in residences. Fines are also given for disobeying house rules, for example not signing out visitors before the required time.
Williams said that fines often exceed the cost of replacing items, but students need to learn that rules are there to be obeyed and rooms are there to be looked after.