Northern’s residence halls defaced by multiple incidences of vandalism

heather.luebke and heather.luebke

Sexually explicit graffiti adorned the walls of Gant Hall in one of three separate acts of vandalism reported to Public Safety
during a 10-day period.

The vandalism took place between Sept. 20 and Sept. 30 in Hunt, Halverson and Gant Halls, according to Public Safety’s daily activity log. Jeff Mincheff, assistant director of Public Safety and Police Services, said that each of the three cases has included graffiti.

“They’ve been random pictures, random writings, different sayings and quotes and words,” he said.

Victor LaDuke, an investigator with Public Safety, said that at least one instance of graffiti was explicit in nature and depicted drawings of male genitalia.

“Why someone would draw that is beyond me,” LaDuke said. “There was nothing verbal that
went with it. It’s a little odd.”

According to Public Safety’s daily activity log, two of the three cases have been closed. LaDuke said that there are no suspects in any of the three cases, and cases are closed if there are no leads or
new information on the case.

“If we develop information later on, we open the case again,” LaDuke said.

The graffiti in all three halls have already been painted over, he said, adding that any damage to university property is repaired or removed as quickly as possible.

The longer graffiti remains visible, the more likely it is for more vandalism to occur, LaDuke said.

“Our policy is to have Public Safety take a picture of the damage so they can have evidence for their investigation and then we paint over it immediately,” said Caroline Blair, the resident director of Gant Hall. “The graffiti never stays up long. It’s usually taken care of in an hour.”

The upswing in graffiti is not unusual, but it is unfortunate, said Rob Lion, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life. He
said that there is almost always some kind of vandalism occurring on campus.

However, in other years, students notice vandalism on campus more often.

Neither Blair nor Lion believed that the damage in the residence halls was caused by
residents.

“People who don’t live in these halls are causing this,” Blair said. “It’s people getting in from outside the halls. The people that live in those halls don’t
feel the need to deface where they live.”

Even though the physical evidence of the vandalism has since been erased, students living in the residence halls still feel the effects of the damage, Blair said.

Shortly after the incident, meetings were held with the residents of Gant Hall to discuss the vandalism. Blair said the overall reaction about the vandalism was
very negative. Students take offense to damage done to their living spaces, she said.

“The residence halls are our homes,” said Spooner resident Dan Byrd, a junior, undeclared major. “Nobody has a right to
violate our homes.” Lion said he believes that maintaining an open means of communication is the best way to address the issue.

Students often view the residence halls they live in as their “home away from home” and will volunteer information to prevent
the damage from happening again, he said.

“If students are more excited about where they live, they feel more ownership about it. The more the entire community feels
invested in the space, the less the
vandalism happens,” Lion said.