Uncategorized / March 2, 2016

Club board vandalization raises security questions

Fifty-four bulletin boards line the walls of Seymour Union and many of them have been vandalized more than once.

The bulletin boards are mostly unprotected, save the Panhellenic Council board and the Common Ground board, which are both behind glass. According to Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Travis Greenlee, there is a limited amount of glass cases such as these and they are given out on a basis of need for protection.

Boards that have been vandalized most often include Union Board, whose large calendar of events has been ripped down numerous times in past years, the Students Against Sexism in Society board and the Pagan Student Alliance board.

Recently, a watercolor poster hand-painted by a Pagan Student Alliance member was stolen from their board near the stairs to the mailroom.

The club reported the theft. But club president senior Tim Berner explained that little can be done to stop or penalize board vandalization due to the anonymous nature of the act.

“I don’t know if they’re targeted things, or just ‘whatever, I’ll just take this thing down, for fun,’” Berner said, noting that drunkenness might also play a role.

The club has put up posters advertising events such as Pagan Day or collaborations with the Interfaith Council, and within a day all the posters within Seymour and Old Main have been torn down. Other clubs have suffered similar fates, with all their posters taken down shortly after they put them up, for seemingly no reason in particular.

Berner believes the removal of posters for the Pagan Student Alliance could be more targeted.

“The fact that all of our posters were taken down was more a specific thing to do, probably one or two students said, ‘I don’t like this club, I’m going to take their stuff down, but again, we don’t know who that is, so otherwise, it’s just speculative,” he said.

According to Greenlee, there is no real way to assign any sort of punishment for vandalizing clubs’ materials because rarely does the club discover who did it.

The general procedure starts with contacting Greenlee, but what he can do from there is limited. He said that Campus Life can access security footage, but culprits are not often spotted. Even if the culprit is caught, there are no solid steps that could be taken to punish the wrongdoer.

Greenlee imagines the process could work through the Honor Board. Knowing the identity of the person responsible for the defacing could provide a learning experience, he said, explaining that it would offer Campus Life insight into why people feel compelled to deface organizations’ materials.

“I think, if someone was caught vandalizing a board, they’d go through the conduct process; we’d figure out how we’re going to remedy the situation,” he said. “I don’t think we’re a very punitive system, you’re not going to jail.”

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

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