Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You ungrateful little brats.

Normally I find myself siding with students in conflicts between students and the university, so much so that I sometimes wonder if I can be counted as a mature adult, but today I have no sympathy for some students at my university. In fact, I'm going to use a classic adult authority figure phrase: I'm very disappointed in you. This message just came from Mark McWilliams of religious studies. [Readers outside of SLU can probably skip it]
Oribe Lantern Vandalism

Dear Campus Community:

Yesterday, after a year of work securing funding, working with the building and grounds committee on site permission, with subcontractors on electrical wiring and foundation work, and with the hard work of physical plant personnel we finally installed a beautiful 500lb Japanese Oribe stone lantern next to the Gunnison chapel for the enjoyment of the campus community. This lantern, with a Buddhist image of the bodhisattva of compassion, Jizo, was to represent the Buddhist tradition and, by extension, the religious diversity of the campus community—some of whom, like myself, are Buddhists. It was also an attempt to beautify the campus grounds and add a Japanese touch to the garden area beside the chapel.

It is with great sorrow that I tell you that within 12 hours after the pouring of the concrete—around four a.m. in the morning, someone in our community decided that he/she wanted the top stone ornament of the lantern. They pulled the top stone off breaking the glue seal and cracking the concrete base of the lantern. This has, in effect, severely damaged what others and I have worked so hard to make possible and is a senseless act of desecration.

I simply cannot understand why someone would do this to a religious monument. I would like them to know that their vandalism is an act that has deeply offended not only myself and those who worked on this project, but is also an attack on the university community, whose buildings and objects of art are meant to be cherished and enjoyed by all of us. I would also like the perpetrators to know that when something like this happens it hurts not only me, and the community, but themselves—for they depend on the university and the people who work here to make their campus congenial for their studies and their daily lives. It will be a long time before I ever think of doing such a project again, knowing, as I do now, that the very day I was thrilled at seeing something beautiful come into being on our campus, there was someone here at SLU who was happy to ruin it for me and others.

I would ask the person(s) involved in this act of vandalism to realize the error of their ways. Please place the stone top piece back by the lantern. It was not meant to be your personal room decoration, but something for all of us to enjoy.


Mark MacWilliams
Religious Studies Department


K Pierce said...

Did the perp ever confess?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

As I recall, the orb was returned anonymously.