By Opinion Editor Vicki Xu & Staff Writer Maggie Zhao
In contrast to the long-awaited drop-off loop, the MSJ campus also underwent a few unwelcome transformations over the summer: vandals poured and sprayed paint all over the Thinker statue, snapped three trees into pieces, smashed three windows of the N-wing doors, and spray-painted nonsensical images and words on walls across campus.
When first vandalized, the Thinker statue was covered in yellow paint. Since all runoff on campus goes to the creek, the graffiti on the Thinker could not simply be power washed off; it had to be removed through environmentally-friendly methods, which are more time-consuming and expensive. After maintenance crews spent more than 50 hours removing the paint, vandals returned the next day to spray red paint on the Thinker’s face, and the maintenance crews spent additional hours fixing it. The Thinker was then coated with anti-graffiti material to prevent further vandalism. The costs of repairing the Thinker were covered by the FUSD general fund, which is a fixed amount of money the State of CA allots to school districts every year to spend on facilities and equipment.
Two of the broken trees were next to the office, and the other was near the M Wing and gym. They would cost a combined $250 to replace, money that would come from the ASB budget.
During the summer, the walls were painted over to cover the spray painted images and words. Meanwhile, new windows have recently been ordered for the N-Wing doors, but for now, makeshift boards stand in place of the windows. The money to fix these also came from the FUSD general fund.
These acts are the latest in a growing trend of vandalism incidents across Newark and FUSD high schools that, according to Principal Zack Larsen, began in June with Irvington High School, where vandals put super glue and putty into keyholes. Since then, other Newark and FUSD principals have reported seeing vandalism on their school sites as well. However, there is no evidence to suggest that these incidents are related.
In light of the defacements, Larsen said, “It’s disappointing … Any destruction to any facility is serious in that it costs a lot of money to repair, money we don’t have. At the same time, it begs the question as to what is it that brings out … the acts of vandalism from individuals.”
Possible ways to combat or discourage future vandalism include heightened security and student vigilance. Larsen said, “We’re looking into getting security cameras around the campus just as … a deterrent.” In addition, students who see suspicious activity on campus can alert “an administrator, a parent, or the police,” said Larsen.
As for the current vandalism, any students who know additional details about the situation are encouraged to report anonymously to any staff member. According to Larsen, rewards may be offered for the discovery of information.
Photo by Graphics Editor Victor Zhou