Three weekends ago, the Goshen College campus was hit with what campus safety director Chad Coleman said was probably the “most blatant” and “biggest swath” of graffiti on campus that he has seen in his eighteen years here.
Patrolling campus safety officers first noticed on March 20 that the underpass tunnel had been tagged, and later saw that other campus signs, Music Center walls, road signs along the bike path and sidewalks had also been graffitied.
Coleman described the content of the graffiti as pretty “juvenile,” and not something he would expect anyone in the GC community to be a part of. Aside from the occasional anarchy symbol, most of their graffiti was just abstract spraying.
Vandalism of private property is a crime, so campus safety quickly notified the police. After checking local reports as well, Coleman noticed that the Goshen hospital had also been targeted. He reached out to them, and after comparing security footage, realized that the same people committed both crimes.
Although the college’s cameras didn’t get good footage due to the motion-sensing cameras not recording, the hospital’s staff managed to get enough to identify the delinquents as two males between approximately 14 and 18 years old. They were also able to determine their build and clothes. A campus-wide email described one as “wearing a very distinct dark-colored jacket with bright red, blue, and yellow streaks on the shoulders and back of the coat.”
Although this will be time-consuming and costly to fix, Coleman is hopeful that things will be looking better soon.
The hardest part to clean up will be in the tunnel, where the graffiti was sprayed over the existing art.
Although students may not immediately notice due to the abstract nature of the mural, the graffitied letters and symbols need to be painted over and that will prove challenging, says Coleman.
This incident was not the first instance of vandalism in the underpass.
In fact, the mural came about as a result of vandalism. After someone sprayed graffiti on the once bare, white walls, the college decided to have a GC alum, Noah Yoder ‘10, cover it with the mural.
Above all else, Coleman encouraged students to not hesitate to call campus safety if they suspect criminal behavior. He wants there to be a culture where “if you see something, say something.”
He also reiterated that the Omnilert app is a great way to send tips – either anonymously or not – if students feel unsafe, need an escort or want to report something out of place. Campus safety’s motto is to be “campus caretakers,” and students are encouraged to use this resource without hesitating.