In the past few months, there have been several reported acts of vandalism across campus. Headlights and taillights of vehicles in cars parked in Lot R have been broken, windows in Prince George’s Hall (PG) have been broken out and a bathroom wall in Montgomery Hall was dirtied with feces.
In an email sent to all students, staff, and faculty, Director of Public Safety, David Zylak reported the vandalism in Lot R and PG. He informed the campus that “several of the windows on the South side of the building” had been broken. He also stated there have been six separate reports of vandalism to cars in Lot R (the parking lot between Waring Commons and Lewis Quad). In an interview, Zylak further reported the vandalism found in the Montgomery bathroom.
Zylak received positive feedback from sending out the vandalism email. In the email, he stated, “I find [it] disheartening that anyone would show such a level of disrespect and lack of personal pride toward the campus and campus community.” In an interview, Zylak said the message in the email responses he received communicated that is was a “nice email, well deserved.”
The damage done to the cars was initially discovered when a student came forward reporting that her own car had been damaged and that she had also noticed other damaged cars in the lot. This caused Public Safety to investigate the rest of the cars in the parking lot for further damage. The officers then informed the owners of any damaged cars they discovered. The damage to the windows in PG was discovered and reported by staff from the Physical Plant.
“Because I do have my car parked in Lot R, after hearing about these incidents, it makes me very nervous to be parked there,” said sophomore Alexia Tanski. “I’m not sure if the cars are specifically targeted or not, but whoever is doing it really should find a different pastime; it doesn’t seem as though they realize that they are making things more difficult for the students who are already paying so much to come here.”
According to Zylak, a culprit has not yet been found for the various acts of vandalism. He stated, “It is near impossible to solve without an eye-witness.” It is unknown whether this vandalism was the fault of a St. Mary’s student or someone outside our community.
“I was disappointed when I heard about the incidents,” said Emily Burdeshaw, senior and Residence Hall Coordinator of PG. “I know that emotions were high when we were moving so much, but I don’t think that it is an excuse or valid reason to vandalize a building. It’s still our home, even if we are not currently living there. It’s frustrating to me that a person (or people) would take out their aggression by destroying a part of the campus that we live on, whether a residence hall or elsewhere.”
“You live in this community,” said Zylak, “It’s your community. Law enforcement can’t do this by themselves. We need the community to be eyes and ears for us.” Zylak explained that vandalism culprits usually like to brag. Any student who knows anything about these crimes should report any tips to Public Safety, either by calling the office (240-895-4911) or reporting anonymously using the Silent Witness link on the Public Safety page of the St. Mary’s website.
“There have been about 350 students displaced,” said Zylak. The students who previously resided in PG are now living on the Sea Voyager or in other places on and off campus. “Every bit destroyed just takes us longer to repair.”
“With all the problems on campus, I can’t believe that people would want to create more problems,” said junior and Resident Assistant Alex Walls, currently studying abroad in Alba, Italy. “This is just ridiculous!”
In terms of general crime prevention, Zylak wants to remind students that it is important to stay safe on campus. There have been several reports of stolen bicycles and other theft. It is important to lock up bikes and keep doors locked, especially at night. “We live in a society where you have to lock doors,” said Zylak. “Lock your stuff up.” It can be dangerous to jog at night, especially with darker hours starting earlier with daylight savings time. Zylak stated that he will soon be sending out an email reminding students to stay safe on campus.