The morning breaks early Wednesday, sunlight touching every corner of campus. But as everything is illuminated, the light reveals a horrid scene for many waking students. The parking lots glimmer, coated in broken glass. Metal fragments lie on the pavement, and damaged cars sit in their marred state. Twenty-nine cars were vandalized overnight.
Even if this was meant as a joke, it’s not funny. If it was a drunken mistake, no one feels any sympathy. If this was meant for any purpose, it didn’t come through. The only thing this entire situation communicates is concern, for both students and university staff.
For one thing, Public Safety and Lawrence Police did an excellent job of figuring this out. The next day, suspects were identified. This investigation and arrest process was speedy.
And it doesn’t stop there. Public Safety and University Communications provided prompt, informative updates on the investigation as well. The campus was notified about the incident in a timely matter, and shortly after, we were also notified when a suspect was arrested. The communication the university provided was fair and helpful.
However, where was Public Safety while the destruction was happening? I understand that it may have been a demanding night and they may have had a lot of calls to take. But I can’t understand why Public Safety was not patrolling in, or at least monitoring video of, any of the multiple lots when this occurred. It wasn’t one or two cars smashed — it was 29. How could Public Safety be so absent as to let almost 30 cars be damaged?
Public Safety should be present and patrol across all areas of campus to make sure this level of widespread destruction does not happen again. I know they are usually reliable, but in the case of 29 damaged cars and a $15,000 price tag, Public Safety just did not pull through for the students this time.
But this isn’t solely a lesson for Public Safety and university officials. Students need to have more respect than this. You’re in college and your parents aren’t watching, but that does not give you the right to behave with total disregard for anyone else.
You have no right to damage what does not belong to you. You need to respect other students’ property, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s illegal if you don’t. I thought we all learned in elementary school that we aren’t supposed to touch things that don’t belong to us.
This incident is especially frustrating when you consider the fact that this is how many people perceive younger millennials and college students’ behavior. We’re all selfish and entitled. We do whatever we want and show no concern for the repercussions. We’re young and wild and careless.
Just the idea of that perception makes me angry. Our generation does not find its only purpose in “living fast and dying young.” Our generation contains conscientious social activists, political minds, passionate environmentalists and powerful leaders. For every person I know who is reckless, I know another 10 who are responsible and principled.
So when I hear that the student responsible for bashing these cars owes $15,000 in damages it’s hard for me to have any pity, especially when this student was a criminal justice minor.
The National Crime Prevention Council cites one of the main reasons for vandalism as boredom. Now, I want to believe that this was not the motivation here. But if you’re bored, watch a movie on Netflix. Learn a new recipe or read a book. If you’re on campus, go to a sports game or enjoy a play. Actually, try to enrich yourself in campus life. And no, breaking glass does not do that.
Be smart, Rider. Learn a lesson from this. And remember, we are all members of the same community, and we face many of the same frustrations. There’s no need for any of us to be swinging at each other.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 02/24/16 issue.