Whether you live on the west or east side of campus, you might have noticed the bananas.
There have been bananas left outside of residence halls, on benches, and on monuments such as the lion statue.
“I’ve seen them literally everywhere,” said freshman Jana Rocha. “Tables on the Mall, the backpack rack in the Caf placed randomly on statues and in buildings all over campus. I honestly think it’s hilarious.”
“I got back to my dorm late one night and there were racks of bananas in both mine and my roommate’s beds,” said Gabriel Farrell, a freshman resident of Theresa Hall.
Some students have termed the culprit the “Banana Bandit,” according to junior Colin Lancaster, who is also Commentary editor for The University News. Whether the nickname stems from affection or annoyance, many students can agree the prank appeared harmless.
According to Russell Greene, UDPD Chief of Police, “UDPD has not investigated any offenses involving bananas. Leaving a banana on a table is usually not considered criminal mischief.”
However, there were negative side effects. For several days, there were no bananas in the cafeteria since they were being randomly scattered around campus.
Lancaster, first floor RA of Madonna Hall, has been directly involved with the backlash of this escapade. Lancaster said it seemed to be a group prank among the Madonna residents. Judging by the volume of bananas distributed, multiple people were involved, said Lancaster. Thus far, the Banana Bandit has no face.
“Last Friday, I came into the dorm and there were bananas everywhere,” Lancaster said. “At first I thought nothing of it. They were in front of the doors … But then I noticed some of them had been smushed [sic] in various places. There were a ton in the laundry room, bathrooms [and] showers.”
“The worst was where the bananas were actually smashed into the carpet,” Lancaster said. “We have a really great cleaning guy, José. He had to spend a lot of hours taking care of the mess.”
The residents of Madonna Hall had a mandatory meeting on Wednesday, February 12th. During the meeting, hall damages were addressed and the students were told that their student accounts would be fined.
All residents of Madonna Hall were fined $25.
“I think the men of Madonna have the potential to be amazing young men on this campus, who can form this school for good,” said Seth Oldham, Director of Student Affairs. “Our decision to fine them was not out of ill will for [the residents], it was simply for their community’s benefit.”
“Last semester,” Oldham said, “we had some other concerns about Madonna and the community being created. [Myself, other OSA faculty, and Campus Ministry have] had a conversation with [the residents] about the type of community we wanted them to create… Clearly, because of the vandalism, that didn’t work. The next step is a community fine, which is something laid out in the student handbook.”
“I don’t think that it’s fair to hold everyone accountable for the few people that were vandalizing,” said Madonna resident Kameron Manning. “Personally, I don’t spend time in the Madonna common room. I don’t even know what’s going on. This all was a surprise to me.”
According to Lancaster, resident assistants had to pay the fine as well.
“We’ve had multiple incidents of vandalism in the dorm,” said Lancaster. “Exit signs have been knocked down, there’s a sizable hole in the wall of the lounge, we’ve had windows break in the past, tables got broken. The banana thing seems to be the icing on the cake.”
Although the hall-wide fine did not directly result from the banana incident, there seems to be a common thread.
“The people who are doing [these pranks] aren’t stepping up or taking responsibility,” Lancaster said. “If it’s a joke that went out of line, that’s [more] understandable. But if you’re vandalizing on purpose, that’s disrespectful. In Madonna right now, there’s been a major decrease in respect for the university’s property. That’s not the type of community that we’re looking to build.”
“I think one of the things that can help build a better community is empathy. That’s part of the problem from last semester, there seemed to be a lack of empathy for people in the community,” Oldham said.