May 23, 2006

FOTA Vandals

Large pink labyrinths, interactive Lego displays, and a house of cards helped characterize the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) on campus this past week. Each spring for the past 41 years, FOTA encouraged students’ artistic expression. But for the past two years, it has also brought out some students’ more destructive behavior.

Last year, a group of upstanding gentlemen from the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, popularly known as Fiji, reportedly stomped through a Lego village on the quads, destroying hours of a student’s work. The University’s only response was to stand by and watch.

This year, after Lana Harfoush’s “House of Cards” was doused in turpentine, the University again faces a situation that warrants action, for even more reasons than last year’s incident.

In both situations, students purposely destroyed others’ artwork. This should not and cannot be tolerated if we want to enjoy the open displays that the core of FOTA’s project. This year, however, the vandals went a step further. By pouring turpentine on the project, they presented a risk to the entire University community.

Both vandalism and the creation of safety hazards warrant punishment by the University. This year’s act of vandalism involved not only the defacement of student art, but safety risks to students and a University building. When disrespect escalates to such a level, the University has no choice but to take a hard line.