(opinions) vandalism on campus

Slusher Tower, Sept. 21, 2018.

Post-quarantine freedom and newly stuffed residence halls can only be expected to breed a little chaos on the weekends, but party culture is taking it too far this time. With the lack of parties to attend and no more Center Street game days, there’s been a rise in vandalism — willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property—and it’s just not funny anymore.

Every weekend you can scroll through Instagram and see the weekend’s shenanigans play on repeat — smashing lamp posts and impaling residence hall signs. Students are documenting their activity and sending in content just to make it on Instagram accounts like BurntCupVT, Blacksheep and other accounts of the sort. Yeah, they’re amusing to watch, but when it’s the same stuff over and over again, it causes damage and becomes incriminating. How many times can you watch someone steal a stop sign and hang it in their room before it starts getting old? In just this month so far there have been 40 cases of vandalism on campus, compared to last year’s full October report of 13 cases of such, according to the 2019 and 2020 VTPD daily crime logs. Many of these incidences are also documented and available for viewing online at some point following the event itself. 

Officer Micah Pasquarell warns of the dangers that these videos can cause to a student’s career and life at Virginia Tech. 

“The police department, and if it’s appropriate, the threat team might also be made aware of footage,” Pasquarrell said. “Our investigators, our officers, are always monitoring that, and many times those videos come up in investigations. They have been useful in finding those that are involved.”

Videos posted online aren’t the only ones that can be used. On campus, in many locations, cameras are placed for surveillance purposes.

This sort of activity may be fun in the moment, and funnier afterwards, but it’s causing a hassle for on-campus workers such as VTPD officers on campus, resident advisors and maintenance and housekeeping staff in the residence halls. Already up late on the weekends tending to the fallout of a 10 p.m. “get-together,” staff on campus are being worn out. Fellow students will have to pay the consequences of your irresponsibility and inability to have fun without vandalism, as VTPD presence increases on campus as they are urged to roam the buildings looking for trouble. Many incidences involve material such as glass, plastic and wood, and can cause harm to the participating parties. Not only do these actions have consequences, it’s downright disrespectful. As young adults, it’s time to respect the environment you live in and the people who live here with you. 

Pasquarell offered some insight on the process involved in fixing the damages done on campus. 

“Typically it’s going to be reported by a resident advisor, a faculty or staff, or a police officer,” Pasquarell said. “From that point on it’s a matter of who’s responsible for this, who are we billing for it, is this something that facilities or maintenance can handle on site, or do we need to go to the manufacturer ... some items on campus are no longer necessarily being built.” 

This can cause immense complication for staff involved, possibly going as far as newly made doors or light bulbs. Pasquerell also spoke on prices, stating that the actual light pole itself is over $1600 to fully replace and the globe and bulb cost about $350.  

Maybe we can focus on different ways to have fun, release emotions or whatever is prompting students to break things over and over and over again. Let’s start respecting the campus we pay to live on and the people who put it together, take care of it and keep it nice for you. It’s not funny to disrespect the work that goes in to making this campus so beautiful.