statement of protest

Huesman and Sullivan residents write a statement of protest in response to a $50 fine

Update 5/3/19 7:07 p.m.: This article has been updated. It originally stated students were informed in an email they would have to pay a $50 restitution. This has been corrected to say that the students would have to pay a fine with no specific amount attributed. The article also originally stated that Steven Nygaard, director of student housing, met with student who drafted the protest. This has been corrected to state that it was a member of student housing who met with the student, not Nygaard.

In early April, letters from the outdoor signs of Huesman Hall and Sullivan Hall were stolen by an unknown student or group of students. This continued until, on the final day of classes before Easter break, all the letters of Huesman’s sign were gone, according to Dominic Pancheo, a freshman finance major and senator for East Quad Resident Hall Association (RHA).

After this, residents of both Huesman and Sullivan received emails from their resident director (RD), indicating they would all have to pay an unspecified amount restitution charge unless the letters were returned.

In response, a statement of protest was written by a student and posted around the Huesman building. While the copies of the statement were shortly removed because they didn't comply with housing policies, Pacheco eventually presented it to a panel of East Quad RHA members.

The signs’ letters have since been replaced, and the fine has been reduced. It is still true that if the perpetrator of the theft returns the original letters, other residents will no longer be fined.

“I understand what the Huesman residents are trying to say,” Pacheco said. “It’s not right that they’re being charged when not all of them are responsible for [the theft].”

Pacheco said that while he believed the severity of the fines were wrong before they were reduced and he nevertheless understood the rationale, as the theft cannot go unaddressed.

Pacheco said that while he believed the severity of the fines were wrong before they were reduced and he nevertheless understood the rationale, as the theft cannot go unaddressed.

“It’s LMU’s job to take action, and they’re kind of in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation,” he said. “If they don’t do anything, that tells students that it’s okay to damage the property. But if they do charge them, they’re taking money from students for something they didn’t do.”

Mykelpatrick Hayes, a freshman screenwriting major and Huesman resident, said that when he saw the first incident of stolen lettering, he found it amusing and did not expect it to result in a fine.

“I walked out one morning and saw that the sign said ‘Esman Hall,’” said Hayes. “This was around the time the notice for demolition signs [were] being posted around the building. I think that was kind of misguided, because as soon as those went up, people took it as an opportunity to do whatever they wanted.”

Hayes said he saw letters disappear every day after that first incident. For a period of time, the Huesman sign read ‘Man Hall,’ which was captured on the Barstool LMU Instagram page.

Since the building is going to be demolished soon, Hayes said he thinks this incident should not have resulted in any sort of fine. According to Hayes, most Huesman residents felt the same way. An incident also occurred where a poster of the resident minister was found set aflame in a hallway trash can, according to Hayes.

“We don’t know who lit the poster on fire, but I think it had to do with the whole fine business,” he said.

Steven Nygaard, the director of student housing, clarified that the restitution charge is not a punishment, but rather a representation of Huesman and Sullivan residents taking responsibility for the actions of their fellow community members. The charge was determined based on materials, labor and time.

A member of student housing also met with the student who drafted the statement of protest, which resulted in a productive conversation.

“Our goal is to listen to the concerns and do our best to address them, while also articulating what we know and the rationale/hopeful outcomes of our policy,” Nygaard said. “Ultimately, the outcome we seek is for our students to demonstrate respect for their community.”

He mentioned that similar incidents have happened in the past, and the resulting procedure is always the same.

“​Anytime there are damages of this kind, staff experience disappointment because some students choose to take something without permission and disrespect the community,” Nygaard continued.

At time of publication, the reduced restitution charge is still in place for Huesman and Sullivan residents unless the original letters are returned.

Austin Woods is a freshman economics major from St. Louis, Missouri. His favorite band is the Rolling Stones and his favorite food is Indian. You can often catch Austin in his trademark neon yellow Carhartt beanie.

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