Worrying vandalism campus-wide

Patrick Miner

In April, the installation process began for several Zimbabwean sculptures that were recently donated to Lawrence. According to an article in the April 30 issue of The Lawrentian, the sculptures “were donated late last December by David Barnett, a Milwaukee art dealer whose wife, Susan Frend, graduated from Lawrence in 1981.”
Several of the seven sculptures are now part of the landbridge by the campus center and others dot the riverwalk along the Fox – a new walking path that opens today. The sculptures were carved by seven artists of the Shona tribe of Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, new additions to campus like these statues have been undervalued by a number of students. Signs and posters have been taped to the sculptures, and trash and beer cans have littered their plinths. Recently a resident of the neighborhood that borders Trever Hall complained that a fire was started on the riverwalk.
Incidents of defacement and vandalism are by no means limited to these new areas near the Campus Center. The light bollards that line paths throughout campus have been tipped over and their components destroyed. These light posts cost $300 to $1,000 to rewire or replace depending on the level of damage.
Director of Conferences and Summer Programs Lynn Hagee brought the issue of vandalism on the riverwalk to my attention. We talked about the problem extending campus-wide.
“What I’m concerned about is the overall campus,” she said. “This is all property for us to take care of – whether it’s the paintings, the trees, the bollards. This is our community property and we all have a responsibility to help take care of it, whether it’s stopping somebody from doing something or changing your own way of doing things.”
Obviously, there’s no reason to vandalize works of art or to litter. Beyond that, on a note of practicality, the costs associated with repairs are very high and often drawn from funds that would otherwise go to interesting and engaging programs, activities or improvements to campus.
Hagee continued, “The thing that I don’t think most students realize when they do things like this is the cost of repairing. It means that money is taken away from something we really would like to do.”
With the opening of the riverwalk today, I hope that the new space is met with respect. The riverwalk is partially student-designed and has several attributes that make it well integrated into its surroundings.
Instead of wooden or plastic benches, limestone slabs line the trail. Trash bins are cement and subtle rather than plastic and bulbous. Litter and waste are even more apparent in this setting.
No Lawrentian – student, faculty or staff – should have to deal with vandalism, especially those like Lynn Hagee who spend their careers making Lawrence a more comfortable and effective place.
Said Hagee, “It makes me very sad when I walk along the riverwalk and pick up trash and cans and see places where people have pulled out bushes – to what end?