GVPD looks for leads in campus graffiti
Officers at the Grand Valley Police Department are looking into a series of stenciled graffiti throughout Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus.
Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of GVPD, said the graffiti started to spring up on campus at the beginning of the month and so far, the university has removed the stenciling from more than 16 different locations including the Cook Carillon clock tower, the Kirkhof Center, the Little Mac bridge and the pendulum outside of Henry Hall.
“We have people engaging in juvenile and immature behavior,” DeHaan said. “Campus property is not an appropriate canvas to express one’s political views…”
The stencil reads “revolution,” which DeHaan said may be a play on the Ron Paul revolution campaign, but GVPD is not certain of it’s actual context.
Proper removal procedures require the university to hire a contractor to remove the paint with a sandblaster, and in the case of the “revolution” stencils, totals more than $1,000. The money for removal comes out of the university’s general fund – essentially, DeHaan said, students’ pockets.
“There is a cost to this, and it is born to the students,” he said.
Though in these type of incidents it can be difficult to identify the perpetrators involved, DeHaan said the police department does prosecute the individuals responsible, which can result in a felony for cases such as this one, where damages result in over $1,000.
“The police department does identify and prosecute individuals for these offenses,” he said. “We will do that in this case if we’re able to identify the suspect or suspects.”
Aaron Haight, assistant director of the Office of Student Life, said GVSU does have alternatives for students looking to express their opinions on campus, or get the word out about something in particular.
In the case of student organizations, there is a chalking policy that allows for registered groups to announce campus events or meetings on designated sidewalk locations.
“So you can’t just go out and write ‘Quidditch Club is the best,’” Haight said, adding that it would be okay, however, to write when the club was holding it’s next meeting, with the date, time and location.
Campus officials are asking students to also use one of the two free speech/open forum areas on campus – the circle drive sidewalk area surrounding the Cook Carillion clock tower, and within 50 feet of the blue Transformational Link sculpture near the Lake buildings on campus.
Haight said though the university cannot tell people what to say in the free speech zones, “they can dictate the time, manner and location in which they do,” so as not to impact the campus community in a negative way.
GVPD is encouraging anyone with information regarding the individuals responsible for the graffiti to contact the police department at (616) 331-3255 for follow-up.
“Our goal is to put an end to this type of destruction and identify the individuals responsible,” DeHaan said.
For more specific rules on chalking, free speech and campus postings at GVSU, the full text of the university’s Registered Student Organization Handbook is online at www.gvsu.edu/rsohandbook.