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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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MIP library vandalized in protest

Discussion on donors takes new form at GVSU


On Jan. 15, the Grand Valley Police Department responded to a report of destruction of property at the Mary Idema Pew library.

“Money shouldn’t dictate education” and “donate for good, not recognition” were written on a donor recognition plaque in the library, officers said. Police are continuing to investigate the total damages and other case specifics.

Since the opening of the library for the 2013-2014 academic year, this has been the first public act of vandalism in the building. Images of the graffiti were posted on various social media outlets by students. Some reacted negatively when they saw the posts.

“Whoever vandalized the library was wrong in doing so,” GVSU sophomore Jessica Hamlin said. “I believe we should have free speech, but not if it’s done by destroying our school’s property. Maybe if we encourage freedom of expression in other ways besides vandalism more students will be willing to use the other methods.”

Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of DPS, and other campus authorities stressed the various options that students have on campus to express their opinions, including conversations in the classroom setting and in campus publications.

“We are fortunate here at Grand Valley that we have very little damage done to our campus,” DeHaan said. “However, it is very inappropriate when someone is using a building structure as a canvas for personal expression. Damage of such a nature is a true crime. If individuals wish to express themselves there are many other means of dialogue across campus.”

Depending on the damage done and the case specifics, the individual accountable could be charged with a misdemeanor or a more severe punishment, said DeHaan.

Discontent with the situation at hand stems outwardly from the police station, reaching to other faculty officials and students across campus. The main concern of staff is the disregard for campus property and the destruction of GVSU property. Some fear that related incidents could begin to be more prevalent on campus.

“I have been at Grand Valley for almost 30 years and I have never seen anything like this,” Dean of Students Bart Merkle said. “This is a university where people do not always agree, but we have a lot of pride, and when it comes to bring frustrated and concerned we discuss it in a respectful manner.”

DeHaan and the GVPD are looking for leads on the case and are asking the community to contact the police station at 616-331-3255 or Silent Observer at 877-887-4536 with any information. Tips can be revealed anonymously.

“I would challenge the individual accountable to assume responsibility,” Merkle said. “The university is a place for individuals to think, discuss and even argue, but not in a way that reflects badly on the community.”

hlentz@lanthorn.com



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