Residents foot the bill for broken Broadway awnings

Some residents in the Broadway Housing Building are facing a combined charge of nearly $7,000 because three glass awnings attached to the building have been shattered over the past month by objects thrown from dorm rooms.

Some residents in the Broadway Housing Building are facing a combined charge of nearly $7,000 because three glass awnings attached to the building have been shattered over the past month by objects thrown from dorm rooms.

Because each awning costs $2,200 to replace, including labor and materials, residents living directly above the shattered awnings will have to pay the combined total of nearly $7,000 to cover the damages.

Residence Housing Association President Omar N’Gadi estimates that about 39 to 45 residents will be affected by the charges and that each will be forced to pay $160 to $200, according to University Housing’s community billing policy.

The community billing policy is enforced when the perpetrators of vandalism are not identified. In cases where the culprit cannot be identified, University Housing policy states the charges are equally distributed to residents on the floor, or in the parts of the building where the damages occurred.

The enforcement of this policy often means that most of the residents charged for the damage were not involved in the act vandalism.

“We want people to take responsibility and be accountable,” said Corey Ray, director of Residence Life. “This isn’t a magical building where they think they can do whatever they want and not be held accountable.”

N’Gadi said the most recent incident occurred when an awning on the west side of the Starbucks on Southwest Jackson Street. was shattered this past weekend. The two other incidents occurred over the last month, N’Gadi said, with one awning being shattered on east side of Blue Fin Sushi on Jackson Street and the other on the east side.

Another incident occurred last December, where an awning was shattered on the south side of Blue Fin. Including this incident, four shattered awnings near the Broadway Building have been reported in the past six months.

Ray believes that the frequency of these acts of vandalism in Broadway is definitely more than a coincidence.

“It gets to a point where it is not funny. It never was,” Ray said. “Now it’s getting serious.”

According to Ray, one of the awnings was smashed with a wine bottle full of liquid, which concerns him because the object could have severely injured someone.

Portland State student Matthew Horn said he is concerned with the residents throwing objects from their windows. As a groundskeeper and landscaper for Portland State, Horn said he frequently picks up trash that has been tossed on the ground from Broadway windows, which he says has intensified this term.

“It makes me angry because it’s dangerous,” Horn said. “It’s totally disrespectful.”

Horn said the splintered glass that still remains in both of the awnings near Blue Fin is also a concern. The glass is noticeably cracked, and is still fastened to the outer metal frames of the awnings.

“I’m angry and frustrated that the school is not taking the awnings off,” Horn said. “I’m just worried about people getting injured.”

Ray said the glass is removed immediately if it is potentially dangerous.

Director of Campus Safety Mike Soto said he is aware of the shattered awnings and has filed work orders to both facilities and University Housing to have the glass replaced. He also said he thinks they pose no immediate threat to the community.

“That doesn’t mean that if somebody else were to throw something at it, it couldn’t cause an injury,” Soto said of the cracked glass.

The university currently uses a safety glass that splinters instead of completely shattering upon impact for the awnings. However, Ray said there have been discussions about switching to a harder substance. Ray said that if similar vandalism continues to occur, the university might not let students open windows or restrict how wide they can be open.

The RHA is holding a meeting with residents in the Montgomery lounge on Monday at 8 p.m. to discuss recent problems, including a couch that was thrown off the second floor of the Ondine Building and damaged the front desk. Residents will also vote on whether the RHA will cover $1,000 of the total damages for the three awnings.

N’Gadi said he hopes residents who attend the meeting will share any knowledge of the events.

“We need people to step out of their comfort zone and name names,” N’Gadi said.

Any resident willing to identify those involved can speak in private with Janett Matthews, assistant director of Residence Life. There is a $220 reward per awning for anyone with information that leads to the identification of the involved parties.