Several students living on the Hill are complaining that UCLA Housing charged them for tampering with red emergency sanitation bags they claim they never touched.
Marcella Pensamiento, a second-year political science and economics student, voiced her concerns at the All Hill Town Hall meeting Wednesday night, during which students living on the Hill gave feedback and expressed concerns to UCLA Housing representatives. Pensamiento said she and her roommates were charged for the bag even though they never touched it.
The inhabitants of a room must pay $25 between them if the bag’s seal is broken or if the bag is opened, said Steve Dundish, assistant director of UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services. He added the bag has a note on it that states if the seal is broken residents will be charged $25.
Pensamiento said she posted on social media to see if other students had the same issue and received responses from around 200 student who said they did.
“Everyone has the same recurring problem that’s affecting us in the same way, which is very unjust,” she said.
She said she could not prove she and her roommates did not open the bag, and other students could not either.
“My concern is more regarding the people who come into the dorms in the beginning of the year, see a perfectly pristine, untouched emergency bag and leave seeing the same thing,” Pensamiento said. “Over the summer (they) get charged over something they can no longer prove and are stuck with that charge.”
Dundish said UCLA Housing has charged around 800 rooms this year for tampering the bag and reversed the charges for about 84 residents. He added the bags contain sanitation materials that can only be used in the event of an emergency.
“If you’re trapped in your room and need to use the restroom, the bag has sanitation materials that will allow you to relieve yourself,” he said. “We don’t want the supplies in the bag to be touched by other people.”
Dundish said if students can prove they were no longer living in the room when the bag was opened, or if they noted the bag was opened when filling out the Room Condition form at the beginning of the year, UCLA Housing refunded the fee.
Bianca Says, a second-year physiological sciences student, said she and her roommates did not know the bag was in the room but still got charged for breaking the seal. She said they tried to dispute the charge but eventually ended up paying the fee because they felt they would not be able to get housing to reverse the charge.
She added she thinks students should not be charged for opening the bags.
“It’s there for a reason,” Says said. “We can’t use it if we have an emergency because we’re scared we’re going to be charged.”
Dundish said residents who use the bag in the event of an emergency are not charged any fee.
Phoebe Sajor, a second-year chemistry student, said she and her roommates were charged because the bag was missing from their room even though they had placed it in the corner of their room.
“(We) didn’t take it, touch it, do anything to it,” Sajor said. “It was just sitting in the corner.”
Students who are concerned with the policy can talk to their On-Campus Housing Council representative, Dundish said. He added housing officials meet with OCHC regularly to discuss student concerns.