Reading Rights: Constant vigilance

Magdalena Waz

(Drawing by Annie Raccuglia)

Often we complain about the general disrepair we see on campus. A student walking down the stairs in the library says, “There aren’t enough books here. And I wish that it was open all night.” Both of these specific complaints have to do with money. The school doesn’t have enough money to give us more of what we need and want. Because of this, it is highly discouraging to see the vandalism that takes place on campus every weekend.

At this point, we’re all aware of the bollards, bench and planter that were damaged. We probably have also heard about the aluminum arm that blocks vehicle traffic from entering campus from the Wriston Turnaround being torn off. Maybe we’ve even heard that a hall microwave was stolen in Sage. These acts of vandalism have denied us the right to light, seating, pretty flowers, a car-free campus and the right to warm our food in Sage. That’s a lot of rights taken away in one weekend.

It’s spring. Everyone appears to be perpetually drunk, and it seems that drunk people only focus on knocking things over that are nicely rooted in the ground. These groups of drunk students are usually loud, large, rambunctious — and yet nobody ever sees them. I’ve never heard a bollard fall, and I guess I’ve never heard a bench being kicked in, but I’m sure both acts require a bit of difficult labor.

We have two options. We can report the vandalism we see taking place and make sure that those who do it understand that there are consequences for their actions. Or, we can take the easy way out, change vandalism’s name to something like “landscaping” and put a nice positive spin on it. If it’s not really vandalism, we don’t have to pay for it, right? Time and time again, we’ve been confronted with this notion that the majority vote decides what is acceptable, but it’s voting through action. Our silence is a vote for vandalism.

Our silence makes it possible for those around us to spend a weekend destroying our property — and I’m calling it ours because we have to pay for it — and then walk into class Monday morning feeling no remorse for the fact that they have stolen something from us. The handbook and J-Board don’t matter here — even though I appreciate both of those things to no end. We wouldn’t need to punish people for anything if they just behaved like they cared about the people who live with them.

This weekend, about three weeks before my graduation, was the breaking point. I had spent a great weekend with friends in Björklunden, where everyone was just so cooperative, only to find my campus in shambles. I can no longer walk past, shake my head gravely and say something snarky to the person next to me. It doesn’t work because it’s preaching to the choir.

Unfortunately, the only way to stop this onslaught of destruction, if you will, is to practice what Mad-Eye Moody’s imposter taught Harry Potter and his friends when they were 14: constant vigilance. Memorize security’s number. Have it on speed-dial. And prepare yourself for this coming weekend, which is sure to be an active one.