Miles Kovarik and Grabriel Sistare, staff writers
Vandalism on campus has been on the rise recently, including a series of destructive acts that occured on the farm and the FMTS physical plant. According to sophomore Gordon Jones, who was working during Thanksgiving break when these acts happened, vandals rolled three hay bails into Charlie’s pasture, near the red barn, and then lit one of them on fire early in the morning on Nov. 26.
On Sunday morning, Nov. 30, at 6:30 a.m., Public Safety responded to a call that the pig house was open. After the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department and Public Safety investigated, they found that windows were broken at FMTS, on the Farm and in the Paint Crew office. The latter of which also had a chicken in it.
Jones explained how a chicken might have been moved into the Paint Crew office. “Chickens are roosting at night and they are easy to pick up and move,” he said. “There is a slight chance that the chicken could have jumped through the office window, but it is a very small chance.” Jones also commented on how the windows were broken. “There was evidence that it was a discharged fire extinguisher that was used to break the windows,” he said.
According to Dean of Students Cathy Kramer, prior to these incidents over Thanksgiving break, another act of vandalism occurred where perpetrators stole pumpkins from the chapel and threw them at passing police cars.
Kramer also said damage was done to the car of Sunderland’s RD, Natalie Nimmer.
FMTS Director Paul Braese explained the extent of the damage at the physical plant. According to him, four to five windows had been broken: at the main office as well as the paint and electric crew offices. Along with the broken windows, a fire extinguisher was discharged, and the Snickers Bars were stolen from the vending machine.
“It gives me great frustration,” Braese said, “because we [FMTS crews] have so much on our plate right now.”
In the case that those who committed the acts of vandalism were from Warren Wilson College, Braese decried the acts as “a violation of trust.” Though he was disappointed, Braese was also hopeful that students would respond to the degradation of their community. “It is heartening to hear the students want to do something about this,” Braese said.
Paint Crew Supervisor Jason Lackey reflected on the situation as well. “I am disappointed that people would act that way to their fellow community members,” he said.
Due to the fact that such a high volume of these acts occurred at FMTS, Paul Braese said that it is likely some monitoring system will be installed in the area. Though Braese continued, “we [FMTS] would rather spend our money on something else.”
Director of Public Safety Terry Payne came to the Dec. 2 Student Caucus meeting to discuss the vandalism issue. Responding to a question asked by a Caucus member regarding what Public Safety will do in response to these incidents, Payne said, “we have increased patrols in the areas affected by vandalism.” He added, “We need more officers because right now after 11:00 p.m., there are no students working and we have one officer patrolling the campus.”
He also explained how it is difficult to catch the vandals. “When we attempt to patrol especially dark areas, it is easy for people to hide in bushes or behind cars.” In a joking manner Payne added, “Maybe ouronly option is to also hide in the bushes and wait for them to cause trouble again.”
Kramer explained to Student Caucus that vandalism occurs sometimes every year, but that this semester is especially bad. “There is acuteness to the recent ones [acts of vandalism] that we have not seen before,” she said. “Normally vandalism is not this heavy as this has been because vandals usually do not put the animals or farm in danger.”
Payne had some considerations for students about this vandalism. “Around break time is when more vandalism and stealing occurs, so now is the time to lock your doors to your car and keep an eye out.”
According to Chaplain Steve Runholt, three acts of vandalism have occurred at the church, which included setting off a fire extinguisher twice and another act last year which according to Runholt “is not worth talking about because it gives the perpetrators too much attention. It was that horrific.”
The three acts of vandalism in the chapel have led to a change in security. The chapel will no longer be completely unlocked at all times during the day and night. Student IDs will be required to unlock the inside of the chapel. The plan as it stands now is to institute the same type of system that students use on campus to get into dorms. The front door of the chapel will remain open but the inner doors to the main section of the chapel will be locked.
Runholt came to Student Caucus on Nov. 18 to discuss ideas with students about how to secure the chapel. Runholt explained how the ID beeper takes down the name of the student who uses the card. Runholt also explained how he was not interested in looking at the list the system takes down unless something happened such as another act of vandalism. This does not affect students’ access as much as it affects off-campus users who do not have IDs to access the inner sanctuary. Leaving the outside door unlocked leaves the one part of the chapel open, which contains restrooms and a room for activities, such as worship.
“It is a shame that folks have misused the trust of the chapel and so it is now closed to us who like a quiet place to sit and think at night,” sophomore Peter Mink commented. “I hope that Wilson students would not behave in such a manner.”
Sophomore Ellen Patrick expressed dissatisfaction with the plan to close off the space as well as to place such a technology in a “sacred” space at the Student Caucus meeting. She was afraid of closing off the church to the community. Kramer explained why measures to secure the chapel are occurring.
“The chapel is such an open point because it is right off of the road and always open,” Kramer said. “Students using the chapel late at night need to feel safe and a lock system will assist students in feeling more secure.”
At the Student Caucus meeting, Kramer described what would happen to the vandals if caught. “It would depend on the circumstances,” Kramer said, “but most likely we would identify the punishment through our conduct system.”
Several people, including Braese, expressed concern about what these recent acts of vandalisms will do to the cost of tuition.
“I don’t want my tuition to go up because of something like vandalism rather than something important,” fresman Thomas Belmore said.