On Tuesday, Oct. 29, students, faculty, staff and administrators across campus embarked on their morning walk around the Main Quad just as any other day. However, daily passersby quickly noticed that the scenery around campus had been altered overnight.
Phallic images and derogatory phrases drawn in fluorescent spray paint marked approximately 15 separate locations. Some of the areas around campus tagged were the St. Ignatius statue, The Grasselli Library and Breen Learning Center, the Administration building, a car parked in the Dolan West lot by the loading dock, street signs, office windows, the Dolan Center for Science and Technology, green electrical boxes, campus maps, Hamlin Hall, Rodman Hall and the O’Malley Center.
Brian Hurd, assistant director of Campus Safety Services, said that CSS first received the report of the vandalism at 7:55 a.m. on Oct. 29.
“We haven’t heard from anybody that saw what was happening … We don’t know exactly when it happened; it was sometime overnight … When we saw that there were so many of those drawings, it was kind of beyond what we had experienced here in the past,” Hurd said.
Hurd said that the vandal(s) started at Murphy Hall at the construction project, where someone climbed over the gate and into the building, where they most likely got the paint used to graffiti areas around campus. There were items stolen from the site, and set-off fire extinguishers and graffiti similar to the images around campus were found inside of Murphy Hall.
“The building is closed up as much as it can be, but because it is a construction site, it is not totally secure all the way around because they are replacing windows and doors,” said Hurd. “It’s a concern for us because it’s not a safe area to be in, and there is a reason that the fence is there to keep people out for their own safety. We’re doing what we can to keep it as safe and secure as possible.”
Dianna Taylor, chair of the philosophy department, was teaching a class when she noticed the graphic image drawn on the window of her classroom, AD 25.
“I had already started class before I noticed that there was anything even on the window,” Taylor said. “I caught it out of the corner of my eye and it looked like it was offensive, frankly, like something vulgar. I didn’t want to acknowledge it, because I had already started class and I felt like acknowledging it would in a way validate it or justify it.”
Overall, students have expressed shock at the acts of vandalism.
“[The vandalism] is really disappointing because this is our home, and you need to treat it with respect,” said sophomore tour guide Allison Deighan. “This is such an awesome place to be, and I want people that come to tour to feel that awesomeness, and having vandalism on campus doesn’t show off how great this place is.”
“I saw it on the way to Dolan behind the stop signs over there,” said senior Tashiana Jackson. “I mean, I don’t want to say that it comes as a shock, but to see those types of graphic things, it’s different … I knew this one girl who was really upset about it and filled out a bias report because she was mad that it happened.”
Sophomore Jackie Sosnowski, a worker at the Center for Service and Social Action, said, “I was surprised to see it around campus, honestly, especially giving tours around this time of year. People are applying to Carroll, looking at Carroll, and then they see this at our school and probably think that we are crazier. I just think it’s not nice to have that stuff around campus … It doesn’t show the right side of Carroll. I think that we have a good reputation, and something like that can change someone’s point of view.”
Hamlin Hall was the only reported residence hall tagged with paint on the inside. When asked if the potential vandal(s) could reside in Hamlin Hall, Hurd said, “It could be, but we don’t know enough yet to say that.”
Hurd noted that the monitoring of Murphy Hall will increase due to the incident, and a continued investigation will occur. There are no current suspects and no definite knowledge that it was a student act.
While the investigation ensues, Hurd acknowledged that the University has a limited number of cameras around campus. CSS and the University have been looking into the cost of increasing the number of security cameras on campus and how this decision would affect JCU.
“There would be some benefits, but we have to be very careful that we lay out what we’d like to accomplish with cameras,” said Hurd. “We don’t have a lot on campus, and it’s a big undertaking to look at.”
Taylor emphasized that overall, the vandalism was a selfish act that affects the entire JCU community.
“I was walking across campus later that day to go to a meeting in Dolan, and I passed two members of our cleaning staff, who were talking — because they clearly were having to clean the windows,” said Taylor. “They were expressing astonishment that this would have happened on a college campus. They were sort of saying, ‘I can see that at a high school campus, but a college campus you would think that students would be above that kind of thing,’ and that’s my thought too. When students do things like that, they should think about the fact that somebody else has to come and clean up after them. Ideally, it would have been great if the people were identified and were made to clean it up themselves.”