Getting left behind

Sanda Vazgec

At the end of each year, when classes end and students leave Grand Valley State University’s campus for the summer, resident assistants walk the halls of each living center to check rooms for damages or items left behind. While most students anticipate being charged for any damages to their rooms, they don’t always expect a fee for leaving things behind.

When items are found in a room, they are placed into plastic trash bags to either be donated or thrown away. Students are charged $25 for each bag of items collected. If an item is too large to fit in a plastic bag, the student is charged per item. Charges are billed to a resident’s student account via MyBanner and must be paid or else the account will receive a hold that may affect the student’s registration for classes.

Douglas Chambers, a resident assistant in the Mark A. Murray Living Center, said food is the most commonly forgotten item in the apartments on the south side of campus, where mostly upperclassmen reside.

“For some reason people always forget to check those top cupboards and hidden drawers,” Chambers said.

Chambers added that it’s important for students to be careful when moving out because their items may be removed from campus quickly and the student may never get their items back.

“One time I ended up finding a person’s room filled with random things,” Chambers said. “(Left in the room was) lotions, a sewing kit, money from China, packing boxes, sandals, clothes, drawing supplies, contacts and more. We tried to contact them, but they never replied.”

On the north side of campus where most freshmen reside, cleaning supplies, clothing and trash are commonly left behind.

“Most of the time I would find an entire drawer that a student forgot to pack up,” said Stacey Thurston, a former resident assistant. “I once found someone’s prom dress hanging in their closet.”

Thurston said most students are eager to leave after exams as fast as possible and are often careless when moving out.

There are two ways a student can check out of their unit, the first being a traditional checkout where the student and resident assistant check the room together before turning in the keys. Another way to check out of a unit is a self-checkout, where a student fills out an envelope, places their keys inside and turns the envelope in to their community desk.

Thurston said students are much more likely to leave items behind and receive charges when they decide to complete a self-checkout.

Housing staff recommends all students read and understand their housing contracts prior to moving into their units. Many students are unaware they can be charged for leaving items in their rooms after moving out.

If a student realizes they’ve left something behind, they must contact their living center director as quickly as possible in order to get the item back, though they are still likely to be charged for not vacating the building properly.