There is one law which appears to be universal, even more so than murder: one shall not steal.
Let’s rewind to why misappropriating the objects of others is fundamentally unacceptable. Stealing is a direct threat towards a community’s trust. When the possibility of theft taking place is apparent in a society, a community’s bonds are severely weakened. You begin to question the clan’s brotherly ties and start suspecting those you should be blindly relying upon.
While we’re on this, let’s also recap what “things” are. “Things” represent hard-work. They are the product of a family’s hours put into labor. They represent those tedious days children have to go through without seeing their parents, and while you might view this as an exaggeration, it is because of these hours parents spend away from home that they’ve managed to treat themselves with these “things.” “Things” that can constitute ice-cream, headphones, laptop chargers, iPods, plates, cutlery, and countless amounts of food. Whenever these are stripped away from their owner, you are disrespecting the hard work put into obtaining these items in the first place.
NYU Shanghai has encountered several instances where students felt like their brotherly ties were being threatened. Personal belongings have disappeared, causing suspicion and disappointment. Suspicion due to the need to find a culprit, someone to blame for their going to the fridge at 3 a.m. and finding their ice-cream’s gone. Disappointment because we started off trusting each and every one of us, yet came to find that gym bags, money, and laptop chargers were all disappearing.
It is unethical to steal from your own comrades, people you see and enjoy everyday—hell, it is unethical to steal PERIOD. Stealing affects a person emotionally, and emotional stress is the last thing you should wish upon your classmates. We have enough of that already on our own! While appropriating another’s items can only bring discontent to the victim as well as to our community, imagine the amount of joy that comes with returning a lost item!
Stealing, I repeat, has an immense negative effect on our community. It weakens us and provokes a high sentiment of discomfort in our own homes. We don’t buy food because of fear that it will be money thrown away, we have to make sure we leave nothing behind, and we worry whether or not our money is safe within our own room’s walls. One of our very own students had 3000 RMB stolen from her own room. Is this the image we wish to give other study away sites? Disrespect? Distrust?
Such instances are completely unacceptable and should have severe consequences. $3000 RMB can be a student’s living expenses for a semester! Yet, we disregard this is an issue in our community and downgrade it to: “there’s not much we can do about it” or “maybe your door should have been closed”. Do I lock my room’s door at home? No. I trust that my sisters will refrain from taking what they know is off-limits.
Regardless of how minor the objects taken are, be it yogurt, cereal, even salt, this is an issue which must be put to a halt and can only be shut down by the students that constitute our community. We’ve all experienced the frustration that comes after realizing your food is gone from communal fridges, so adopt the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. One should not feel unsafe at home. We should do everything in our power to ameliorate our living experiences and promote mutual respect.