Two weeks after the University of Maryland's fall semester began, a sofa was heaved out of the eighth-floor window of Cumberland Hall, a highrise dorm that houses 500 students.
In the weeks that followed the seventh and eighth floors in the northern section of that dorm became the target of abuse. Obscene graffiti filled the walls of bathrooms and hallways, a door was set on fire, lights were broken, ceiling panels were torn down, fire extinguishers were emptied and fire alarms were jammed.
Firebombs, trash cans, a metal fire extinguisher case, a 30-pound circuit breaker cover and another sofa, were also thrown from the eighth floor.
The University of Maryland officials responded to the escalating dorm vandalism last week by notifying 49 residents of the seventh and eighth floors that were going to be immediately "administratively transferred to other rooms on campus" - thrown out.
They were also told they would have to repay the university for the $4,000 damage done to the dorm.
The repayment requirement has raised a furor among a number of dorm residents who call themselves "the heinous hogs."
This group of students whose ages range from 19 to 21, admit vandalism has been taking place for several years and even admit this last semester was "ridiculous." Many of the students, however, say they did not participate and thus should not have to pay damage costs.
The university officials disagreed.
"It was a very serious situation and we had to address it in a very serious manner," said Sandra Neverett, director of the dorm group that includes Cumberland.
The dorm director said all students living in university housing, sign a contract that makes them responsible not only for their dorm room, but their immediate living area.
"We firmly believe there is a group cohesion there. There are those who act in the destruction of the property. There are those who don't participate but condone it. And there are those who tacitly approve it," said Neverett, who explained that this was the reason everyone would be charged for the damage.
Neverett said that a group of 11 girls who live on the seventh floor in an area that students call "the pit," would not be charged for the vandalism or transferred because no damage occurred in the area where they lived and they were not part of the "Hogs."
As for the Hogs, however, she said: "We belive if we move them now, we will end up with 49 little problems instead of one big one . . . we will eliminate the combination of personalities."
"This group just would not respond to reason," said Richard P. Stimpson, director of the university's housing, who added that he has never witnessed such a serious case of vandalism in his six years at the university.
"We are not angels," said one member of the Hogs yesterday as he and other members were finishing final exams and trying to meet their Monday deadline to move out of the dorm.
"I can see their point of view (the university's). There are some people up here that aren't mature enough to control themselves," siad 20-year old Frank Ellis, a sophomore who lives on the eighth floor.
David Ballard, a 21-year-old senior from Baltimore majoring in engineering, said he remembered when residents of the H-section of Cumberland got the name: "Hogs." "It happened about four years ago in my second semester. The guys decided this section of the dorm needed identity. There has always been vandalism - but never $4,000 worth," he added.
One student explained that it was "peer pressure" that made the dorm residents act "crazy." Another resident said it was the lack of a resident assistent this last quarter that resulted in the large number of residents' "immature behavior."
Other residents, however - who admitted to some extent participating in vandalism - said they got drunk during some of the incidents where vandalism occurred.
"We are known for athletics and spirit," said another eighth floor resident. The vandalism was all part of letting the campus know "the Hogs are number one."
Campus rivalry has prompted vandalism outside the dorm as well, according to the school's officials. They say a black liquid was thrown over another dorm's trophy case and sign was left that read: "Hogs dominate, Hogs are number one."
The officials said the Hogs also put dead fish in the hallway of another dorm.
"We aren't the only ones causing damage," said a group of Hogs members who eagerly took a reporter to another section of the dorm where they showed him a hallway where the ceiling tiles were completely removed.
A group of students who lived in that section of the dorm said, however, that the damage was done last year by a group of students who moved out of the dorm.
When the Hogs got their notice to move out and pay damages last week, they decided to hire a lawyer to fight the university. "We are Hogs who stick together . . . even if we get shafted together," lamented one Hog.