The writing’s on the wall… unfortunately

During this semester at Lake Forest College, a disturbing new trend has emerged, one that is particularly frustrating.

On a number of occasions, college property has been vandalized. The first incidents (or two) occurred in February. Someone smashed all of the windows of two cars parked on campus. On that same night a flaming rag was shoved in the gas tank of one of the school’s vans (I can only assume this was committed by the same lowlifes). Luckily, some students noticed the situation and reported it to security before there was an explosion. Still, this incident was unsettling.

Just a few weeks ago, vulgar messages attacking one of the College coaches were scrawled all over the bleachers and sections of turf on our football field, costing thousands of dollars to clean up.

After the first episode, I had my doubts that our own students would deface school property, but after the spray painting, I’ve reconsidered that assumption. Now, I suspect that both incidents were perpetrated by Lake Forest students. I am frustrated and ashamed of our student body.

As I mentioned before, the bleachers not only had to be cleaned up, but new patches of turf had to be installed on the field. This is not just sod, but rather artificial grastoturf that the College invested in when it refitted the field five years ago. Obviously, on the surface vandalism is bad. For me, incidents like these go beyond the surface.

I can’t help but take it personally. Everyone at this school paid some amount of money to go here, so this property is communal. It’s my property as much as anyone’s; so naturally I’m offended when someone vandalizes it. And because it’s everyone’s property, its state reflects myself and my peers to the community.

What does it say about a group of students who can’t control themselves enough to keep from being reckless idiots on the weekends? It makes those of us who can control ourselves (the majority) ashamed to be associated with them. Vandals don’t belong in college; they belong in jail.

Several columns ago, I wrote about how the town of Lake Forest merely tolerates college students, but doesn’t embrace us. Well, with characters like these attending this institution, I can’t blame the town. Lake Forest prides itself on being one of the most pristine cities in the state (or country… or world). Residents fought against painting yellow stripes next to the railroad tracks, arguing that the stripes were unsightly. The town looks nice. Smashed car windows, near-exploding vans, and graffiti must seem like hideous blemishes on the town’s face and image.

So in the end, these senseless acts are more damaging than the cost of replacing a window, cleaning up the turf, or even patching my ego back together. These incidents blemish Lake Forest College students’ image and stain relations with the town. Those things take a lot longer to fix. Crime doesn’t pay… it costs (a lot).

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