By Becca Robb | News Co-Editor
[caption id="attachment_10966" align="alignnone" width="300"] Commandeering golf carts is a theft, not a prank[/caption]
Dish soap in the Sammy fountain, water slides in the halls, dead animals in the bathroom-pranks are just harmless ways to blow off steam, right?
Several students clung to the careening golf cart as they fled the Campus Police. For the last six years, students have stolen university golf carts and embarked on joyrides around campus.
They drive the carts around campus, usually in the middle of the night, and then leave them scattered around the grounds. Often they are out of gas or drained of electricity and have to be removed on trailers.
"The first time that it happened, it seemed like just that, just a random prank," said Donna Boatwright, director of conferences and special events. "It's frustrating for me, because I don't know if student development (takes any corrective measures) when we know basically who it is."
But this is not a prank. This is theft.
If Taylor chose to press charges, each student involved could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which entails a maximum of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Each golf cart costs around $7,000 when new, but Boatwright said she might sell a damaged golf cart for $900.
"One of them I literally just had to almost give away, it was in such bad shape," Boatwright said. "I've got two more ready to sell, but they're worth way less than market value at this point because they get so damaged with the four-wheeling and everything."
One golf cart was never found. Because the conference program does not receive any compensation to help with repairs, the program must dig the funds out of its own budget.
"The conference program is designed to help offset tuition," Boatwright said. "But the little bit of money we get to run that, I have to use to make repairs to golf carts."
These incidents also require police investigations and grounds repairs, which add to the total cleanup cost. Last spring, grounds workers had to fix ruts and reseed flowerbeds that the golf carts damaged.
Facilities services director Greg Eley said this degree of destruction is not typical of Taylor students. Chief of Police Jeff Wallace encouraged students to talk with him if they aren't sure about carrying out an escapade. He said that campus pranks, to an extent, are part of the college experience.
"There is nothing wrong with good, fun college shenanigans . . . as long as people or property don't get hurt in the process," said Wallace.
Wallace encouraged students to treat Taylor's campus as they would treat somebody's house. It may be easy to think the Taylor administration can just absorb the costs, but the funds don't come out of thin air.
"I know some students feel like, 'Well, I pay enough. I should be able to do whatever I want.'" Boatwright said. "But I would pray that's not common"