Mill's Vandalism: Prank Gone Wrong?

On Sunday, March 17th, Mills Hall was vandalized. The stairs leading down to the walkway that passes in front of Founders, their railings, and the retaining wall were spray painted yellow. Also, perhaps most notable, a rough copy of the First Belz logo, a stylized letter B, was spray painted on a variety of surfaces in that area.

So far, the identities of the individual or group who actually did the painting remains unknown, along with their motive.

Joseph “Pangh” Comer (‘19), the RA of First Belz, said, “As the RA of First Belz, we do not take responsibility for the vandalism act that was done on the Mills stairwell. It was disgraceful and distasteful and does not reflect well on the college. If the college has not figured out who did it, I encourage those people to turn themselves in. Also to the people who attempted to frame us with our logo: We are insulted that they would try to frame us, but even more so, we are insulted by how poorly our logo was represented. I can only imagine that Senior Neil McCarthy (‘19), the creator of the First Belz new logo three and a half years ago, is deeply hurt that someone would misrepresent our logo so poorly… We will accept any apologies or retributions by those deviants.”

The event has sparked questions about pranks around campus, considered by many a vital part of the college’s traditions.

Whether malicious or a harmless prank gone wrong (for New Girl watchers, à la Winston?), Student Development appears fed up with the excuses. In an email sent to the student body on Thursday, March 21st, Dean Voyles said, “We have a history of pranks at the college. On occasion those pranks have walked the line in regards to damage and defacement of property and creating work for our facilities staff, but we do our best to work with students in regards to ownership and accountability.  These two recent actions have clearly crossed the line. … We will not tolerate these types of actions that break the law and have destructive effects on the community as a whole.”

Many have often skirted that line pointed out by Dean Voyles, while not even knowing it was there. What is the difference between vandalism and a prank? Vandalism is defined as an action involving the deliberate destruction of, or damage to, public or private property. A prank is simply defined as a practical joke or mischievous act. While this action is being called vandalism by Student Development, others say that it is similar to or no different than the pranks that occur on halls, outside of a more public eye.

J. Corey Dupree, Director of Facilities Management said, “This vandalism does typify a prank culture of damaging buildings and property that takes away resources from other campus priorities. The same effort going into restoring the Mills facilities from this prank is not much different in scope than that of the recovery efforts from other such vandalism/pranks that happen away from the public eye on individual hallways or in resident rooms. The distinction of vandalism in this instance is that it has happened in full view of the campus. Our staff is working with the available resources to clean this prank up as expediently as possible.”

Campus Safety and Security, along with Student Development, are still going through security surveillance of campus, while still hoping that those who committed the prank will come forward.