By Gabriella Levine
This past weekend, the Reamer Campus Center was the target of two serious incidents of vandalism. The O3 Marketplace and the 90-inch, $11,000 LED TV across from the Ushi Bar were both severely damaged.
As of Tuesday morning, Director of Campus Safety Christopher Hayen was able to confirm that Campus Safety had identified one potential suspect and was quite confident that the other potential suspect(s) would be found as well.
Information first surfaced Sunday morning that O3 had been vandalized. Students reported that the aftermath of the scene was “gory” with blood surrounding O3 as well as the pit in Reamer.
The Schenectady Police Department was on campus Sunday morning gathering evidence, including fingerprints and blood, at O3.
Lieutenant Mark McCracken of the Schenectady Police Department confirmed that Reamer was vandalized sometime between 11 p.m. Saturday night and 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
McCracken explained that there is not a “dollar amount listed for the property that was damaged,” but the Retail Manager of Dutch Hollow, Starbucks and O3 Jonelle Bayer explained that “there was a lot of damage” that required hours of cleanup at O3 since 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
McCracken confirmed that among the vandalized objects at O3 were “a computer, a cash register, a credit machine was broken, as well as glass on a food display cooler. Items were thrown around the area as well.”
“It does appear that there was broken glass and blood,” McCracken continued.
It was unknown until Monday morning that the 90-inch LED TV in Reamer was also damaged.
Hayen believes that the vandalism of both O3 and the TV were not separate incidents; rather, he stated, “I’m sure it was all done by the same people … I think that it was all one episode of individual or individuals creating havoc.”
Hayen remarked that the incidents were particularly “troubling” for several reasons, chief among them being that it appears, although it has yet to be confirmed, that the perpetrator or perpetrators were members of the campus community.
“At 9:30 [p.m.] the only way in and out of the building, since the doors are secure, is key card access,” Hayen explained. “The disappointing part is that the key card access is supposed to protect the property of Union College and the Union College community,” he continued. Yet, in this situation, the key cards provided a way for members of the campus community to enter Reamer and inflict damage.
According to Hayen, there are no cameras inside Reamer. Thus, Campus Safety has resorted to interviewing an “extensive” list of members of the campus who swiped into the building in the late hours of Saturday and early hours of Sunday morning in their search for the culprit(s).
Hayen noted that, in years past, the campus community openly objected to placing cameras inside of buildings. However, incidents like this tend to serve as triggers for calls for increased protection of campus property.
“It’s typically driven by an incident that stirs enough emotion in people where they say, ‘okay, go ahead and do it,’” Hayen said, referring to the installation of security cameras.
This year, Campus Safety successfully caught students vandalizing art work two weeks after installing cameras on the first floor of the Visual Arts Building, which led Hayen to believe that the installation of cameras in campus buildings may prove to be an inevitable security procedure.
Once the individual(s) responsible are identified, they may potentially be subject to arrest by Schenectady police, depending on the severity of the property damage that is assessed.
As of Tuesday evening, Lt. McCracken reported that arrests had not been made.
“One of the things it will come down to is the final number on property value damage. Then, it’ll determine if it’s a misdemeanor or a felony,” Hayen remarked.
Hayen believes that final cost in damages is steadily increasing, especially after he was informed of the damage to the the 90-inch TV. As of now, the TV is reportedly not working. Marks on the screen indicate that individual(s) forcibly hit the TV with either elbows or fists.
The TV, which was purchased to replace the paper campus calendar following a decision by Student Forum just this past January, is allegedly not covered under manufacturer warranty for damage inflicted by vandalism. A source believes it might be covered under the school’s property insurance, but a deductible would still need to be paid if this were true.
It has yet to be determined if and when the TV will be fixed. Additionally, the damage imposed upon O3 may potentially close down the café for an indefinite amount of time.
Jefri Mesa ‘14 has been working at O3 for about a year. Mesa woke up on Sunday morning and was shocked to hear that his workplace had been so seriously vandalized.
“Everyone should know that O3 is a very friendly environment that attracts kind people. We have the most generous and sweet supervisors—Yvonne and Suzette, and it’s tragic to hear that our workplace was vandalized,” Mesa stated.
Due to the vandalism, Mesa explained that student employees are temporarily out of a job at O3. “The costs of the damaged property were very high and we currently don’t know how long it will take to repair or replace that property. Due to this fact, the current students that work there are out of O3 temporarily. We don’t know when we will be able to come back, but we are doubting that we will get our jobs back by the end of the term.”
Mesa personally hopes that O3 will have additional security if it is remodeled in the fall.
The employees at O3 are not the only ones offended by the sabotage of this popular dining service. Frequent customers at O3 have now lost the option to dine at the café as it remains out of service.
O3 offers salads, soups and sandwiches made from local farm products and organic ingredients. Meghan Kupiec ‘14 eats at O3 every day, typically for two meals, and has now been forced to “choose options that aren’t as satisfying or as healthy.” Kupiec believes that it is “unfortunate that both myself and other students are forced to do this because of poor decisions made by others.”
College President Stephen Ainlay also weighed in on the vandalism, expressing his disappointment in the incidents: “Vandalism hurts the community and shows a disregard for both those who worked hard to create space and those who have to clean up and repair damage. Such disregard of others is indeed disappointing.”
It is evident from the outcome of these incidents that vandalism of campus property has widespread effects. Students are now being forced to resort to arguably undesirable and unhealthier eating options, which may result in overcrowding of the dining areas that remain in service. In addition, student employees and regular Dining Services employees have lost their place of work, and expensive technology purchased to inform the student body has also been destroyed. These outcomes prove, as Ainlay noted, “All have an interest in stopping vandalism in our community.”
Shelby Cuomo ‘13 hopes that the campus “follows whatever is laid out in the rule book” in terms of penalizing the responsible individual(s). “I’m sure that calls for at least suspension or expulsion,” Cuomo added.
However, Ainlay cautions that he will await “findings” that are expected to be revealed throughout the ongoing investigation before concluding “anything about the responsible individual(s).”
The Concordiensis will provide updates regarding the incidents of Reamer vandalism as more information becomes known in the coming days.