A wave of vandalism swept through campus this semester, from broken windows to damaged equipment and graffiti.
Recently, a screen in Leonard Residence Hall was damaged and a window was broken in Gund Commons, according to Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper. Student Council Campus Safety Chair Aldis Petriceks ’17 said that graffiti in Old Kenyon Residence Hall, missing fire extinguishers and damaged vending machines were also reported. In March 2016, Hooper said that he had noticed higher instances of vandalism than earlier in that academic year.
The words “Fuk Peirce” were spray-painted on the side of Rosse Hall at the beginning of Thanksgiving break; on Dec. 7, maintenance workers removed the graffiti by power-washing.
“Peirce was spelled correctly, which makes me think it must be someone Kenyon-connected, because no one else spells Peirce that way. But the f-word was misspelled,” President Sean Decatur said. “So I kind of puzzled over it on Monday morning as I was walking by. Back in my day, when we spray-painted swear words, we spray-painted them correctly.”
Mark Kohlman, chief business officer, said vandalism is worse than it has been in years.
“The graffiti is a new phenomenon that I haven’t seen in the eight years I’ve been here,” Kohlman said. “And I’m not sure what the cause of that is.”
These recent examples represent an overall uptick in incidents of vandalism and graffiti across campus, with 13 work orders created for vandalism in the month of December alone, even amid stricter punishments for vandalism outlined in this year’s Student Handbook.
“Unfortunately, individuals that create the damage are rarely caught,” Hooper wrote in an email to the Collegian.
The 2016-2017 Student Handbook describes acts of intentional damage — including damage to ceiling tiles, furniture, bathroom stalls and graffiti — as “especially problematic and troublesome,” recommending sanctions like a fine of up to $1,000 in addition to restitution, suspension from the College or community service.
The strictest punishment outlined in the 2015-2016 Student Handbook was replacement or repair costs and a fine of up to $100 for acts of intentional damage, with additional judicial sanctions as appropriate. Student Council proposed increased penalties for vandalism last year, according to a Collegian article from March 3, 2016 entitled “StuCo explores new price for vandalism.” The policy change was intended to bring College policy more in line with the Ohio Revised Code, which allows for a fine up to $2,500 for acts of vandalism.
Petriceks said catching vandals is difficult, but he hopes creating a self-policing culture and understanding the consequences of vandalism for the College and maintenance workers could help prevent future incidents. “I think it’s probably a bit of natural, random uptick from one year to another, some frustration given recent events or a lot of frustrations and stresses of student life,” Petriceks said.
Petriceks also cited “recent political events,” alluding to the presidential election, as a reason that students might express their anger and frustration through acts of vandalism.
Hooper urged anyone who witnesses acts of vandalism or damage to contact Campus Safety.