Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
On September 1st, sometime in the late afternoon, an upperclassmen discovered that the Swarthmore Queer Union room in the Intercultural Center had been vandalized. None of the other rooms in the IC were damaged.
On Wednesday at around 5pm, “an upperclassmen went into the SQU room and found that a bunch of things in the closet where taken out. [The same upperclassmen] had a bag of books in there. The books were taken out and strewn around,” SQU Board member Lang Haynes ’12 said.
The upperclassman in question was SQU member Maria Kelly ’10. “My drawing portfolio from [one of] my classes last semester had been in the room,” she said. “All of the drawings had been taken out, and some of the drawings had been ripped up and thrown about the room.”
Normally, the room remains unlocked during the week so that SQU members are free to use the space as they please. That leaves a large window of time during which the vandalism could have occurred, and means that more or less anybody could have accessed the room.
“There was no homophobic writing, no broader destruction. There are other things that could have easily been [destroyed]. We couldn’t locate any witnesses, but what we’re trying to do is figure out a window during which this could have occurred,” Assistant Dean and Director of the Intercultural Center Rafael Zapata said.
Kelly reported the vandalism event to Public Safety; officers took photographs to document the state in which the room was found. “It didn’t appear that there was any person or group that was targeted. As far as a hate crime [is concerned], we didn’t see any evidence of that kind of bias by whoever did this,” Director of Public Safety Owen Redgrave said.
“I’m unsure if we’ll ever know what happened … it’s just a disconcerting event. It could have been anyone, really. We don’t really know what happened and a lot of people are upset about it … it just sort of makes people feel unsafe.” said Kelly. SQU members said, however, they are grateful that no theft occurred and that no one was physically injured.
We may never know the real reason behind this incident, but as Kelly stated, “It’s important that the campus is made aware of what happened, and that this can happen even in a place where we think everything is calm and peaceful.”