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Theft in Mary Morse

Halie Johnson

Students will be held financially responsible for $3,500 worth of furniture stolen from Mary Morse if it is not returned.

Connie Valentine, the head of housekeeping, found one table and four chairs missing from the recreation room and living room on Sept. 5. RAs were notified of the incident Sept. 19 and ordered by HMDS to inform residents that if the furniture wasn’t returned the cost would be divided between everyone. Since then, only half the furniture has reappeared.

“Mills is for the students and they shouldn’t blame us for something we have no control over. It’s not our job description, and we can’t lock down the common areas,” said junior Stephanie Holdermann.

The 7.10 section of the Mills Guide to Living on Campus pamphlet that students receive at the beginning of the semester says that fines for furniture replacement will be charged to those residents held responsible. If not identified, all residents must pay.

“I have financial aid. Are they going to kick me out of school if I can’t pay? It’s a scare tactic,” said Tina Sogliuzzo, a junior.

She was skeptical as to how someone could have hauled furniture around the dorm without being seen, while Holdermann questioned the role of public safety.

Public Safety and HMDS chose not to search dorm rooms for the missing furniture.

“We just patrol the perimeter of the dorms and close doors if they’re propped open, and we don’t go inside. We report personal items stolen and hand bigger issues over to the Oakland Police,” said Dan Brown, director of Public Safety.

“This happens at the beginning of the year. People borrow furniture because they aren’t aware of our policies,” said Karen Maggio, the assistant vice president for business affairs.

It was the first time Mary Morse had opened its doors to residents for several years and Karen Maggio said that some of the furniture stolen was reupholstered and flame retardant. There is a $5,000 deductible for insurance, which wouldn’t cover the items stolen. Some of the chairs cost $1,000 each, she said.

“Some of the students were seen returning some of it, but nobody said anything because we just want it back,” said Marisa Quiroz, the area coordinator of Residential and Commuting Life.

She said HMDS expected residents to use their own judgment and return missing items, and that charging students if they weren’t returned was the only way to hold the community responsible.

Similar incidents occurred in other dorms. Last year, students were charged for a missing sofa in Warren Olney, but Quiroz said that vacuum cleaners are usually the only objects stolen. She also said when residents were forced to pay, they angrily accused one another. Historically valuable items like antique mirrors were stolen permanently over the years.

“The same thing happened in Olney last year. Someone took a keyboard when they went on break, but no one was charged for it,” said Tricia Holden, a sophomore.

The RAs in Mary Morse said they were annoyed by the incident, but put their faith in their residents.

“This is the first time this has happened since I’ve been an RA, and I have to pay too. I don’t want to deal with it again,” said Ahn Nguyen, a junior.