When D left for college for the first time in September 2010, we were wide-eyed parents, navigating the parent end of secondary education in the best way we could. Like anything, there were little surprises here and there (nothing we couldn’t handle: don’t worry, all of you with younger kids!).
One of those little surprises was the occasional appearance on our monthly college invoice of small charges: $1.50 here, $1.10 there…I had no idea what was going on. Was it a charge to fix the cable? Did they charge us to change a lightbulb in the dorm? No clue.
Rightfully wanting to know what we were paying for, I made a call to the school’s Business Office to inquire about the bizarre little charges on our bill.
“Oh,” I was told, “those are community repair charges.”
Community Repair Charges.
Definition: When something is broken–or worse, destroyed–in the dorm and nobody steps up to take responsibility, the cost of repair or replacement is divided among all residents.
While the idea of being charged for things my kid isn’t directly responsible for annoys me to no end, I completely understand it from the school/business side.
I was told that the $1.76 we had to pay towards the repair of an intentionally busted bathroom sink (yes, this goes on!) was nothing compared to a couple of years ago, when a few guys decided to destroy a bunch of campus-owned dorm furniture, resulting in each and every family having to pay more than $75 to replace it.
Most recently, we had to pay something along the lines of eighty cents per family towards what it cost to have a cleaning crew come in after a group of dorm residents smeared their leftover pizzas all over the walls and furniture in the lounge (YES, THIS GOES ON!).
So you can understand why I seized up a little bit when D called earlier today, to warn me about a $25 charge that would appear on next month’s invoice. Luckily, it wasn’t what I thought.
“I’m so ticked,” he said. “I lost my ID and they charged me TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS to replace it! But I had to, or I couldn’t eat or get into any of the buildings. I looked for it EVERYWHERE; I know it’s in my room somewhere.” (Our family’s famous saying, originated by my mom: “It’s here somewhere!”) He was disturbed to the point of raising his voice when telling me about it.
I reassured him that although I’m not thrilled about the charge, he had to replace his card and it’s not like he loses things all the time. He was still annoyed. “They shouldn’t be charging that much! It’s ridiculous!”
That’s when I had to explain to him that if they didn’t make it expensive, other students (the ones who are used to not taking care of their stuff and then still getting no-questions-asked replacements by their lenient parents) would be misplacing their cards all the time. Those few end up ruining things for the masses. After a minute, he got it, but still found it ridiculous.
After he calmed down, I told him I’d let him go so he could get going on his homework.
“Wait,” he said, “did I tell you about how a bunch of guys in the other wing discharged a bunch of fire extinguishers? That’s costing us two bucks.”
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