Calvin East Beltline sign vandalized four times this academic year
The Calvin College sign on the west side of the southbound East Beltline has been vandalized four times this academic year. The vandalism occurred in late August, mid-September, early October and most recently on Halloween night.
“It’s almost been a monthly thing,” said Bill Corner, director of campus safety at Calvin.
The vandals have damaged the same sign repeatedly, which is unusual for vandalism at the college, Corner said.
“This is something new this year,” he said. “I’m not sure why, but we haven’t had this type of behavior in the past. Granted we have had isolated incidents of vandalism, but not when they come back and do the same thing over and over again.”
The expense of repairing the damaged sign amounts to about $1,000 per incident. This cost includes almost $700 for the plexiglas, $150 for the bulb light behind it, and the cost of labor.
“We need to find out who’s doing this and make it stop,” Corner said. “Because these are the kinds of things, over and over again, that start adding up expense to the college, and we can’t afford to keep replacing these signs.”
Campus safety does not have any leads or suspects at this time. The parking lot surveillance cameras are too remote to be used to identify the suspects; however, witness reports have narrowed down campus safety’s search.
“All we have is an idea that we’re looking for a group of four to five white males — college age — and they’re using some kind of a sledgehammer or a bat to smash these things out,” Corner said. “The first couple of times they found retaining wall bricks from somewhere and used them to smash it out.”
The plexiglas “heart and hand” seal on the sign is strong and takes considerable force to break, Corner said.
Although campus safety has not verified suspects, Corner’s suspicion is that the perpetrators are either current students or former students who have an issue with the college.
Campus safety is implementing strategies and preventative tactics to try to put an end to the vandalism. Recurring vandals are usually caught eventually, Corner said.
“It’s a hard thing to prevent, but at the same time we’re trying some things. I can’t get into a whole lot of detail, but we are taking measures to work to identify these people,” he said. “Obviously the more damage they do, once they get caught, the more it’s going to cost them, and I’d even advocate for criminal charges just because of the repeated behavior.”
Students can anonymously report information about a crime through Silent Observer. Corner is encouraging people at Calvin to step forward if they have any information that can assist campus safety in their search for the vandals.
“If anybody knows anything or has seen anything, either contact campus safety or submit a silent observer tip — those are great ways to help us out,” he said. “As we get more information [about the vandalism], we’ll try to release that information to the community.”