RMU has plan for property damage

Vince Russo, Staff Writer

With just over 2,000 students living on the Moon Township campus of Robert Morris University from August to May each year, the Office of Residence Life has more than enough on their hands to try and keep things tame.

This holds especially true when it comes to ensuring the protection of the dormitories on campus, as well as the furniture and other property provided in them.

“The first point of contact is almost always Residence Life. So one of their professional staff or a CA writes up a report and is able to document what was done, who they alleged doing it. Sometimes it requires partnering with the campus police to review camera footage,” said Scott Irlbacher, director of special programs and student community standards. “A lot of the damage is usually found at the end of a semester and is handled through the housing deposit. It’s up to Residence Life to work with the Facilities Office to determine whatever those costs are,.”

Once that process is completed, and those that are guilty are recognized and the damage is assessed, Irlbacher steps into the process. Usually the punishment is no more than a combination of community service, loss of housing privileges, or housing relocation on campus.

Irlbacher adds that most times, he and the campus police give the choice of paying the cost of the damages or receiving criminal charges. To no surprise, most students, if not all, take the first option.

“Almost always students find the money to find or replace what was damaged,” Irlbacher.

But sometimes, it goes a bit beyond that, based on how severe the case.

“If it’s intentional damage, like a very intentional fist-hole through a wall or there is video of them setting something on fire or smashing something, then it is considered more of vandalism and is sent through student conduct,” said Irlbacher.

Luckily, that doesn’t happen often at RMU, a campus that is secluded and heavily watched by the campus police. Irlbacher noted that these instances happen approximately six times a year, at most.

“I’ve been here 10 years now and we used to have a tremendous amount of vandalism in the residence halls. Busted doors and people ripping things off of the hallway doors. When we started renovating the traditional halls, we started putting cameras in all of the hallways and main entrances and on every floor, and it’s gone to almost zero. And whenever we do have a little-wee bit, we usually catch it on camera,” said Randy Mink, RMU police chief.

“As you could guess, most of the time someone is under the influence of something. It’s usually something impulsive . They’re either in an argument, or simply intoxicated, and they smash something or rip something apart,” said Irlbacher.

Chief Mink and his staff works with Irlbacher and the university to make sure that the cases are taken care of appropriately, and most importantly, in a way that repairs or refurbishes the damages done.

“We have a bias, we like to keep discipline within the university itself or send it to our Judicial Affairs department down in Student Life. It all depends on the amount of damage done and the value of damage done,” said Mink.