Punishing the Many for the Crimes of a Few

I'm a student at the University of Mississippi and live in Stockard Hall, a residence hall of eleven floors that houses roughly 500 students. From the beginning of this year, a few idiots have had the bright idea of pulling fire alarms in the dead of the night. What that means is a mandatory evacuation of every student in the hall -- for me, a 20-flight trip down the stairs -- and waiting outside for the fire department to arrive, search the building, and then lecture us for half an hour about how pulling the alarm is bad -- as if we all did it, or the person who did actually cares. Then, usually after about an hour of waiting outside, we trek back up the stairs into our rooms and try to salvage what sleep we can.

In addition to pulling the alarms in the dead of the night -- sometimes midnight, sometimes 2 AM, sometimes as late as 5:30AM, and sometimes multiple pulls in a single night -- people have also decided to tamper with fire extinguishers. By tampering, I mean setting them to continually spray, throwing them in the elevators, and sending the elevators to several floors, creating a huge mess.

The only floors with cameras are the first and the eleventh. Whoever is pulling the alarms is doing it anonymously; it is suspected that there are maybe a maximum of only three people doing this, but nobody is sure who it is.

The housing department has decided that it is appropriate to punish all 500 of us for the actions of this small minority -- who may not even be Stockard residents! We have all been stripped of visitation privileges for a week, and will lose an extra day for every time the alarm is pulled. That means that we can't visit anyone else, and nobody can visit us. That means I can't go hang out with my にねんせい friends and practice Japanese while watching anime, and my roommate can't have his girlfriend here but instead must visit her in the lobby or a public place. Additionally, the university has hired a private security firm to place patrols on every floor.

Aren't we the victims here? Surely the pranksters are getting a huge kick out of all this, especially if they are residents of another dorm. I'll be surprised if there are no more pulls within the week; if they stop pulling the alarms, then they're admitting defeat. If they pull the alarms, everyone gets pissed off and they win. Am I the only one who realizes this? I'm not saying that I have a better alternative to resolve the situation, but this certainly isn't the way to go.

Well, that's the end of this rant, I suppose. I'm just ready to be able to get some decent sleep; the one night in the last two weeks that I actually managed to get to bed before midnight (I have 8AM classes Mon., Wed., and Fri.) there was a false pull! I'll be glad when this is all over.

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Comment by Emekan A'dem on September 26, 2009 at 12:34pm
Yeah, I understand.

Someone nicked a superexpensive table from my dorm's classroom/study room, along with some designer "teacher's chair" from said room (note: the table was long enough to be used for beer pong...) We were then notified that if the two items weren't returned, the bill for replacing them would be dispersed on ALL of our accounts. Whoever took them is probably laughing; they paid little for an upscale makeshift pong table and a desk chair...
Comment by ThorsDecree on September 26, 2009 at 12:21pm
I've personally talked with some of the higher-up RAs and folks in the housing department, and there's not much we can do. I think the idea might have been that someone of us knew who did it and would confess if punished enough; still, that doesn't take into consideration the other 499 of us.

It's not that bad for me, as I generally either stay in my room alone or go to public places when I'm out with others, but the problem for me is more of an idealistic one.
Comment by Emekan A'dem on September 26, 2009 at 12:02pm

I can see why they're doing this to y'all - they don't know which one of you it was, so they'll get all just in case. But it's also awfully stupid of them not to have cameras on every floor since they already have two. But it's still really screwed up; you're on house arrest, basically, for something that isn't your fault and out of your control. We don't have the visitation thing at my university and people can come and go as they please, so I can't fully empathize. Still...good luck.

Write a petition of complaint?
Comment by ThorsDecree on September 26, 2009 at 11:52am
I can imagine. I don't own guns myself or have any reason to, but I do believe in personal freedoms such as gun rights. What people fail to realize and take into account is that criminals _do not care_ about the rules. The fire alarm pullers do not care, gun criminals do not care. Everyone else ends up suffering.
Comment by Rusty Gunn. on September 25, 2009 at 12:14pm
Golly, that's the same feeling we gun owners have everytime another gun control measure is passed!!



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