GVPD catches library vandal on camera


Carly Simpson


At 8 a.m. today, the Grand Valley Police Department released video footage of the person responsible for the vandalism at the Mary Idema Pew Library.

The video will be playing throughout the Kirkhof Center and the library, and GVTV has also agreed to air it.

“We are trying to identify the individual responsible so we can have a conversation,” said Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of DPS.

After three instances of vandalism at the southeast entrance of the library, police installed a portable security camera. The fourth incident, which occurred Jan. 22, was captured by the camera.

The footage shows a male in a green jacket writing on a donor recognition plaque. In addition, it shows two students enter the library and pass him.

“We’re also trying to identify the two witnesses who we believe can be helpful in this investigation,” DeHaan said. “We ask individuals to come forward.”

Related incidents of vandalism occurred once last semester in October and twice this semester on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16.

A recent Lanthorn article, “MIP library vandalized in protest,” discusses the Jan. 15 incident.

Officers stated that “money shouldn’t dictate education” and “donate for good, not recognition” were written on the plaque. Similar messages about donor recognition were written during each of the four incidents.

Though police have not confirmed that one person is responsible for all four occurrences, DeHaan said the handwriting appears to be the same, and there are striking similarities in the incidents.

Student Senate President Ricardo Benavidez said the senate fully supports GVPD’s decision to release the video footage and police efforts thus far in the investigation.

“Quite honestly I’m embarrassed that this has happened,” Benavidez said. “This is not the Grand Valley that we know. This is not how students typically feel the need to express themselves. This incident does not reflect the atmosphere of the university we wish to have.”

The senate will be hosting town hall meetings in conjunction with University Development, University Relations and GVPD to create a dialogue between students, faculty and administration about free speech on campus and donors’ relationships with the university.

“Students don’t really understand what is happening,” Benavidez said. “And administration, faculty and staff don’t really understand what the students understand. We’re trying to clear all that up.”

Provost Gayle Davis agreed with Benavidez and offered her full support and assistance to the senate.

“On a campus that has very little vandalism, this sticks out,” Davis said. “This is an age-old conflict about donors but vandalism is not the way to solve differences of philosophy.”

Police request that any knowledge or information about this incident be forwarded to Detective William DeWitt at 616-331-2691 or [email protected].

Tips may also be sent anonymously to the Ottawa County Michigan Silent Observer hotline at 1-877-88-SILENT.

“We need people to be responsible for their community and help with this investigation,” DeHaan said.

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