By Aaron Youngblood
Officially dubbed the “Spirit Rock,” students are invited by Residence Life to show school spirit by decorating the rock located near the slough. Some students took advantage of that privilege by defacing one organization’s design.
Students for the Justice of Palestine (SJP) painted the Palestinian flag on the rock, along with the words “Justice in Palestine”.
“They wrote ‘NO justice in Palestine’ promoting injustice and a very prejudice statement, which directly attacks many students at Benedictine who are Palestinians,” says SJP member Wedad Yassin.
Zeina Abusoud, associate dean of residence life, describes the Spirit Rock as, “a venue for students to express themselves within guidelines not to offend anyone.” SJP attempted to use the rock for that purpose.
University Police identified the students responsible for the damage, who were then referred to Residence Life for proper sanctions. Abusoud says the investigation process is ongoing.
“Investigation from [ResLife’s] end and the police too, interviewing and pursuing more investigation with students and issuing sanctions,” says Abusoud. “It’s not concluded yet but we are working towards it.”
SJP members were disappointed to see a defacement of school property in such an intolerable manner. SJP president Batool Jafri says, “Seeing the bold words, ‘NO justice in Palestine’ that were plastered over the art we painted on the B.U. [spirit] rock was not only disappointing, but disturbing as a student attending Benedictine University.”
SJP believe the students responsible should receive the highest level of punishment to show that their actions are not only wrong but hurtful. To facilitate the idea that further action should be taken by school officials, there is a petition created by SJP members because they feel not only is there an act of vandalism but also a hate crime.
“We know that is not what Benedictine stands for. We don’t want revenge we only want to send a message to the student body that these actions shouldn’t be and won’t be tolerated,” Yassin added.
“I feel that the [offenders] should be charged for vandalizing. That is wrong. SJP was trying to represent something they believe in, which is, human rights,” says sophomore Jericka Wilkins.
While some feel that this is an act of hate, others feel that it has been blown out of proportion.
“There are kids that do worse things on this campus than paint over the rock,” stated junior Kara Zuro.“They’re overreacting. Even though they didn’t express their opinion in the most respectful way, I don’t think the person should be punished to the highest extent.”
“Because it’s a rock and there are only two symbols, we’ll never really know what the person meant by it, so it’s hard to assume it was a hate crime,” added junior Robyn Hart. “Whoever did it was expressing their opinion too.”
In order to decorate the rock, students have to be granted permission by the Student Activities office. “The desire of students to paint on [the] rock need to go through proper procedures,” says Marco Masini, associate vice president of student life.
“If individuals do inappropriate writings on the Spirit Rock, consequences will occur,” commented Masini.
Masini requested the rock be painted white to mitigate the obscenity. “I requested the rock to be painted white because I did not like the inappropriate markings on it.”
Masini, along with help from other organizations, brought the Spirit Rock to campus years ago.
“It is a piece of the puzzle that I brought to campus through other organizations to have that rock and it’s disappointing that it was inappropriately marked up,” said Masini.