Vandalism on Campus

Local high school vandals attempt to powerwash the graffiti off of the Kennedy dormitory. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

At 1:30 a.m. Oct. 29, three Santa Fe High School students were caught vandalizing the back east exterior of Kennedy Hall. The students told Jackalope they’d been drinking and were just tipsy enough to “think tagging the school was a good idea.” The students evaded security on foot, leaving one of the student’s mother’s cars on campus. When two of the students and the mother came back the next day to retrieve the car and confess what the students had done, the car had been impounded. Campus Security officer Michael Valencia told the mother that she would have to meet with Facilities Director Steven Posey in order to get the car back and discuss what kind of punishment the students would face. The mother suggested the students clean up the graffiti themselves, a plan which came to pass. Jackalope is not naming the students because they are minors.

That Monday, all three students and their parents met with Posey. “I wanted to understand why they did it,” Posey says. The students explained they’d thought the campus was closed, which is why they sprayed “Ghost Town” across the wall. “I gave them a bit of a lecture about if the vandalism had been more extensive and cost more to remove it could have resulted in a felony but as it stood it could be a misdemeanor,” Posey says. “I wanted to press upon them how that makes the school, the staff, the students and the faculty feel. It impacts morale when somebody tags our buildings.”

It was decided that the students would come back to campus at 9 a.m., Nov. 4 to power wash the graffiti off and then paint over it. They would also have to pay for half of the paint required to cover the wall. When Jackalope met with the students while they were working, one student expressed that he “felt really stupid. This was the first time I’ve tagged anything… and the last.” After a full day of cleaning and painting, the students had covered all of the graffiti. Facilities then painted the rest of the wall. “We didn’t want the students to exceed their limitations or make it unsafe by painting the whole wall,” Posey says.

The Kennedy dormitory receives a fresh layer of paint after most of the Graffiti had been removed by the Vandals who had done it. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer

SFUAD won’t be pressing charges against the students, but they have been banned from campus. Posey says the reason the school didn’t press charges is because the students “came back and wanted to make amends… they seemed truly apologetic.” The students and their parents were relieved that they wouldn’t face more serious consequences. “We got really lucky,” one of the students says.

Covering graffiti isn’t the only issue Facilities is doing to make the campus look better. Just this week, landscapers were on campus cutting back bushes and pulling weeds to get ahead for winter. Originally, Facilities weren’t going to worry about the weeds but after students complained, landscapers were hired. “Our focus has been on the student experience and specifically the classroom experience… so we didn’t focus on the landscaping and then it turns out that students wanted us to continue to landscape,” Posey says.  A series of potholes have also been filled in the back of campus. The potholes are starting to collapse, however, which Posey plans to fix soon. “I would ask that if students see something that they think needs to be address, they submit a work order so we know it needs to be addressed. There’s just fewer eyes on campus,” Posey says.