Like everyone else on campus, I received an email from Catherine Duplant, director of student activities and recreational services, on Nov. 6 informing me that TGIT would be cancelled that week due to recurring vandalism issues. While the news was unexpected, it wasn’t really surprising. I’m not a regular TIGIT attendee — I know I know, I’m a sad excuse for a Crusader — but it doesn’t take a particularly diligent or astute observer to see that it is an environment well-suited to the destructive elements of a person’s inner republic.
Petty vandalism has always seemed an odd crime to me. Like Augustine’s episode with the pears, it is the result of a rowdy group-mentality that gleans some sort of rush from breaking rules. The rowdiness is an important element because it allows the perpetrator to act destructively without a thought to the consequences for others. The unfortunate custodian who is tasked with repairing whatever damage was wrought doesn’t occur to the vandal whose better half is overwhelmed by a spurt of misguided enthusiasm.
For this reason, I have never considered it a malicious act. Maybe I am wrong, but in all my experience attending an all-boys high school, vandalism was seldom anything but an ill-advised attempt at getting a few laughs combined with a lack of consideration for those whose property was being damaged or those who had to clean up the mess. There was never vicious intent. In the Aristotelian sense, it is an excess of enthusiasm; Plato would call it rule of the auxiliaries.
The elephant in the room, obviously, is alcohol. Alcohol is a catalyst for this sort of behavior. Thinking in terms of problem-solving strategy though, I don’t think cracking down on drinking would be effective. My reasoning is that of all the social ingredients that contribute to this kind of behavior, alcohol would be the most difficult to eradicate. Attempting to solve this problem by attacking alcohol consumption would be analogous to attacking the most heavily guarded section of a castle. I think it would be much easier and more effective to remind people that they are creating a lot of problems for other people.
To that end, the email Duplant sent out will probably go a long way. I would be surprised if it alone doesn’t fix the problem. But it isn’t primarily the administrators who need to do the reminding. We students are responsible, not only for the care and respect of our campus, but also for the behavior of our friends.
I think I can speak for most University of Dallas students when I say my peers here have been and continue to be an excellent influence on me. I depend, in my weaker moments, on my friends who will tell me to stop being a jerk. Positive peer pressure is an enormously powerful — annoyingly so, says the devil on my shoulder — force at UD. In light of the events at TGIT, I am confident it will go to work preventing further mishaps. While we are at it, maybe we can stop throwing cigarette butts on the ground? It’s a pet peeve of mine. The receptacle is right there!