• Elizabeth Kirkhorn

Smith Hall in Smithereens

Administration reacts to ongoing damages in historic hall

It’s Sunday morning in Smith Hall. Freshman Matt Sullivan is waking up, walking out of his dorm room and taking in the sights of Smith for the first time that morning. Upon first glance, it is immediately clear that Saturday night charades have not been kind to one of Elon University’s most historic residence halls.

“After the weekend, things just always look a lot worse than they used to,” says Sullivan. “People get sick, not in the toilets. The showers, the sinks, the trash cans. There are missing exit signs, smashed ceiling tiles, broken windows and window screens.”

Unfortunately, Smith’s inhabitants for the 2015-2016 school year are not the first class to witness obscene damages in the residence hall. As the only all-male dorm on campus, Smith has been a hotspot for vandalism and destruction for years.

“Damage in Smith includes damage to signs, bulletin boards and water fountains,” said MarQuita Barker, interim director for residence life, in an email. 

Residence Life has tried several approaches to tackle the vandalism, according to Barker.

“We’ve used hall meetings, individual conduct meetings, fines,” she said. “We have also worked with Campus Police to increase their presence from time to time.” 

These methods have proven largely ineffective. 

“I think over the years Smith has gained a reputation,” Sullivan said. “It’s a party. Freshmen always go there and do whatever they want. I’ve seen people who don’t even live in Smith disrespecting the property and I feel like that kind of thing gives it a bad name.”

If one were to ask many Elon students about Smith, they’ll chuckle or sigh and go on to tell you about the reputation for destruction. Upperclassmen will share horror stories about their time in Smith. This may cause freshmen to attempt to live up to that party reputation and try similarly dangerous and destructive escapades. It is a vicious cycle that has contributed to Smith’s woes for years.

Residence Life is seeking to stop this cycle in its tracks this year by rebranding Smith Hall and ending its notoriety in terms of vandalism. Barker confirmed that Residence Life is discouraging students from spreading rumors about Smith in order to help stop the reputation surrounding it. 

In the meantime, Campus Police is holding up their end by overseeing Smith on the weekend. 

“The police are monitoring the halls three times a night during the weekend,” said Sullivan. “They’re fining for damages they see, and they’re investigating other incidents as well.”

“It’s just something you get used to,” said Will Sadler, another freshman resident of Smith, and Sullivan’s neighbor. “Everyone is up late and there are always people out in the hall doing something. It’s pretty distracting as far as studying. You realize day one you’re not going to get any work done in Smith. Everyone goes to the library.” 

Originally Published At: https://www.elonnewsnetwork.com/article/2015/10/smith-damages