Staff Editorial

Vandalism has been a hot topic on the Lawrence campus recently, sparking controversy about student responsibility and safety issues. Lawrence property and student wellbeing were placed in jeopardy, and groups of students were held responsible for actions they did not commit because perpetrators could not be apprehended. The only way to guarantee a safe, vandalism-free Lawrence is if each individual takes responsibility for his or her actions in all situations.
Taking responsibility means, of course, individually refraining from committing disrespectful or destructive acts. However, Lawrence takes pride in and advertises its close sense of community, and every student must invest in that community in order to maintain its success. This means taking ownership and stepping in if someone else is mistreating student or university property. Often this may seem like a daunting or even dangerous task, but it can be as simple as dialing Lawrence security-extension 6999-to report the incident.
The recent vandalism has earned Lawrence quite a bit of negative press coverage, and alumni and community members have expressed their disappointment and displeasure in response. Recently, a local TV news channel came to Sage Hall to tape a story about vandalism that occurred in the elevator. Students who were interviewed were asked questions like, “Do you feel safe on campus?” and, “Does this happen often?” These questions should not even have to be raised at Lawrence. The fact that they appeared as part of a news story indicates that vandalism is a serious problem on campus that must be addressed, and the best way to do so is at an individual level.
The nature of the vandalism has been extremely serious, as indicated by the attention it has received from the press. Hiett Hall has experienced thousands of dollars in damage during the past school year. Sage Hall has been disturbed numerous times by vandals, and, most recently, a piece of art was stolen from a visiting artist’s exhibition in the Mudd Gallery.
These incidents are serious and directly affect the quality of a Lawrence education. Students already complain about high tuition, however, if every member of Hiett Hall were expected to chip in for damages, they would be paying quite a bit more. In addition, if the stolen artwork is not returned, visiting artists may be hesitant to display their work at Lawrence in the future.
Many students were angered by the drastic measures taken in Sage Hall after the severe vandalism occurred several weeks ago. Each resident was charged a portion of the replacement cost for damaged items and the elevator was shut down temporarily. Regardless of whether this was fair or unfair, harsh or not, it was the only way to handle the situation considering the circumstances.
If an individual had taken responsibility or if security had been called immediately, the issue could have been resolved more efficiently. The only way to stop vandalism at Lawrence is for each individual to take responsibility for his or her actions and place within the campus community. Every student deserves a nice, functional campus, but it is each individual’s duty to help maintain it.