After weeks of outrage over vandalism on campus, the community can be reassured that the person responsible has been caught and sanctioned by the College. Student Joe Ireland took responsibility for the acts of vandalism during a third interview with Public Safety on Saturday, Nov. 14.
The vandalism began Friday, Oct. 16 and over the course of a month, at least 10 campus buildings and landmarks have been spray-painted. The damage cost the school a total of $5,781.
Sgt. Tony Brooks confirmed that Ireland was charged by Public Safety with destruction of property, disorderly conduct, possession of drugs, possession of alcohol and hindering an investigation. In a written statement, Ireland confessed to the vandalism and named a second individual as an accomplice. The second student was charged by Public Safety with destruction of property, hindering an investigation, disorderly conduct and possession of alcohol.
According to Dean of Students Laura Bayless, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the details of the judicial process. However, the student handbook, To the Point, lays out the process for this type of misconduct. It is likely that the College Judicial Board heard the case, as it handles the most serious, complex cases. In addition, the handbook states that the minimum expected sanctions for acts of vandalism are restitution, parent notification and Housing Contract revocation.
According to Brooks, Public Safety suspected Ireland earlier on in the investigation. On Oct. 24, Officers Lauren Phelps and Christopher Kessler questioned him after receiving a tip from an unknown student. “He denied it,” said Brooks.
When the student came forth again two weeks later, Officers Keenan Enoch and Michael Colvin interviewed Ireland for the second time on Friday, Nov. 13. Again, he denied it. The following night, Brooks brought him back to the Public Safety Office around 1:00 a.m. “We interviewed him for a couple hours. He kept denying it, but finally he broke,” said Brooks.
Brooks suspects that the State will also prosecute both students, but the application has not been submitted to the District Court yet.
Since the vandalism began the community has been vocal in their opposition to the defacement of College property. The Student Government Association (SGA) responded by passing a resolution denouncing acts of vandalism and thanking the physical plant staff on Oct. 27. “It’s clear that such disruptive behavior cannot be tolerated. I’m proud to see strong efforts to preserve what we’ve worked so hard to build on campus,” said SGA President Justin Perry.
Bayless agreed. “It’s not what we’re about. I was really proud of our campus’ response to it. It was clear that everyone was outraged. It’s not something I want to see in our community.”
Public Safety would like to recognize the students who assisted with the investigation. “We want to thank students for helping out,” said Brooks.