Vandalism Takes a Toll on Campus Assets

Isiah Reyes

Tagged mirrors, stalled elevators and broken thermostats on campus result in GCC facing repairs of vandalism that range up to $100,000 a year, which could lead to students paying an extra dollar fee during class registration.

According to Michael Nevieus of the facilities department, all the mirrors in the men’s restrooms on campus are being removed because of excessive tagging. Removing the mirrors eliminates the cost of replacing them.

The extent of the damages in the men’s restrooms is various.

“They’re using this high-tech paint that you just can’t take off . so we’re having to go to extreme measures in grinding the surfaces of the partition door,” Nevieus said. “There are mirrors that are scratched, graffiti on the walls [and] actual carvings in the dry wall itself.”

Nevieus said that most of the damage was in the men’s rooms. “In women’s restrooms, we don’t seem to have the vandalism to the degree we do with the men’s restrooms.”

In addition to the vandalized mirrors in the men’s restrooms,the elevators on campus have also been maliciously stalled four times this semester, which resulted in hefty costs due to the fact that fire trucks had to be sent to the college, which also damages relations between the college and fire department.

The fire trucks were sent in because students were stuck in the elevators.

Glendale College facilities director Dan Padilla said an elevator was stalled earlier this year forcing the people inside to wait for 25 minutes. There were no injuries, but the cost to the college was $16,000.

Padilla said that people kick the elevator doors, leaving footprints on them.

Another recurring act of defacement is the breaking of thermostats in classrooms just before test days.

“Students are impacted because we have to turn the AC unit off in the rooms,” Nevieus said. “So it’s not just the money.”

According to Capt. Nidal Kobaissi of the Glendale Community College Police Department, the police department does not keep track of the estimated cost of damages.
Kobaissi reviewed acts of vandalism over the past three years.

“In 2006, 32 incidents of vandalism were reported, ? with one arrest,” Kobaissi said. “In 2007, 39 incidents of vandalism were reported? with one arrest. In 2008, 18? incidents of vandalism were reported with no arrests.

“So far in 2009, 16 incidents of vandalism were reported with no arrests,” Kobaissi said. “As you can see, the statistics vary from year to year. It appears to be increasing slightly.”

To combat the costs of vandalism, Nevieus suggested that a one dollar fee should be added during class registration.

Padilla stated that there are around 13,000 students enrolled at GCC, so a one dollar fee would raise $13,000. Although it isn’t nearly enough to pay for the entire cost of repairing vandalism damages, it is a good way to start, says Padilla.

Another of Padilla’s suggested solutions is to install security cameras in hallways to identify vandals who tag the hallways with pencils or knives. Padilla said he supports the idea of security cameras being used, but with the state of the current budget crisis, he does not expect it to happen soon.

According to Padilla, an additional problem with installing security cameras is that it would most likely prompt a concern for lack of privacy among the college students.

It is not just the mirrors, elevators and thermostats that have been damaged. There have also been incidents of vandalism toward vehicles, according to Kobaissi.

“Vandalism is hard to prevent in the sense that it is? usually being done when no one is looking,” Kobaissi said. “We increase patrols in the areas that we feel are experiencing an increase in graffiti and vandalism.”

Nevieus is working hard to get the point across to student body President Ovsanna Khachikian, that vandalism is a serious issue on campus.

“We took a mirror into the student body president’s offices last month just to show her [the damages],” Nevieus said. “Because I’m trying to keep open communications to the student body president regarding this issue.

“I don’t want to cut services . without letting them know what’s going on,” Nevieus said.

The estimated cost of $100,000 a year in damages takes into account vandalism that occurs at GCC and the Garfield campus. Dealing with vandalism on campus takes time and money from the college which could be used on other resources.

“The second floor men’s restroom in the administration buildin, we probably spent 20 hours in there repairing graffiti and this happens a couple times a semester,” Nevieus said.

John Choi, 23, business major, said that the lack of mirrors in the men’s restroom is “inconvenient, because you can’t see if there is anything on your face before you leave the restroom.”

Despite all the incidents that have occurred recently, Kobaissi says that the campus is safe.

“GCC is a very safe place,” Kobaissi said. “Vandalism and graffiti? are problems? in all communities.”

To contact campus police about vandalism, call (818) 240-1000 ext. 5925, or ext 4000 for emergencies.