Vandalism: not just hurting our buildings

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Photo by Patrick Goodman

Over the past few months, there have been numerous cases of vandalism on both the University of Dallas campuses, from the bananas in Madonna to the obscene drawings in the Shakespeare Alley in Rome. 

Most students have heard the stories of the year the residents of Madonna threw the foosball table into the pond. Vandalism has become very frequent and is seen by many as amusing.

And, sometimes, it is funny. Most instances of campus vandalism seem to stem from practical jokes gone awry. There’s nothing wrong with a joke, except when it hurts common property.

The University of Dallas’ mission statement guides the goal we are all striving for: an education grounded in the true and the beautiful. We have to act in a way that fits our mission and begin to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

One of the goals specified in the mission statement is to “educate its students so that they may develop the intellectual and moral virtues.” Committing acts of vandalism does not foster moral virtue. 

Because we are all gathered under this statement of purpose, who we are as a community is gathered under this common identity. UD’s community is one of our biggest strengths. Vandalism does more than destroy our common property; it undermines our community. 

When we damage our common spaces where we engage in conversation and communal activities. Vandalism hurts our community.

Our campuses are common property that provide us a place to foster community and further our education. When we damage them, we damage our relationships with others  who have just as much of a right to use that property as we do. 

Often we spend our time, not focused on the people around us, but trying to discover who the vandals were. When common punishment, like the recent $25 fine imposed on all residents of Madonna hall, which harmed those who did not commit the act, it turns the community against one another. 

There is a certain, natural injustice we recognize when we are punished for something someone else did. 

There are other negative side effects to the vandalism, other than the obvious harm that vandalism causes to common property and to our community. Because of the frequent vandalism, our administration, instead of planning events or initiating programming that can benefit us all, has to clean up after us and respond to the damages more forcefully.

There is so much more our community should be putting its effort into. Our community already does a lot of good. For example, we raise money every year for Charity Week. So many of our students are involved with service-oriented extracurriculars. 

The unseen members of our community, our facilities crew and the men and women tasked with keeping our campuses clean, have to work extra to clean up the messes left behind. 

It’s hard to think of the workers who have to clean up these messes and not feel sorry that they have to do extra, unpleasant work for something they did not cause. 

Thinking that people don’t have respect for our community hurts our morale. We devote four years of our lives to UD, and it’s hard to see that not everyone loves and appreciates our school and everything it stands for equally. 

Humor is an important part of a great community. To let go of the stresses of college life, we need to have fun.  However, when our fun starts to damage our community, both those we know and those we don’t, it is time to have fun another way. 

Crazy college stories are part of the college experience. But when those stories damage our community, are they really stories worth sharing?

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