On Wednesday, Feb. 14, a collaborative student-made model was vandalized in Rhodes Hall.
The model portrayed The Thomson Center for Sustainable Work and Scholarship, which was meant to “promote the general goal of sustainable, local development.”
The model acted as a more sustainable campus model to promote sustainable practices and potentially “have a positive long-term impact on our college, our students, our community, and our natural environment,” according to the project description.
The sustainable campus vision was assembled in a display table, containing different models of buildings, trees and resources, such as solar panels and green houses. It was on display on the second floor of Rhodes Hall until a couple weeks ago, when it was destroyed.
Professor of Sociology Dr. Brian Green said he walked by the model every day on the way to his office, but it was different last time. When he walked by, all parts of the model were either damaged or missing, he said.
Additionally, someone folded over a piece of cardboard, wrote “REMOVE” in large letters and placed it on what was left of it.
Although the representation wasn’t enclosed in glass, “everyone seemed to respect it,” he said.
A few years ago, the model was created by students in both the sociology and architecture departments.
They presented it at the Academic Excellence Conference, it became the center of multiple senior student projects and the model was the focus of an innovative video, presenting the new sustainable campus idea.
The Thomson Center for Sustainable Work and Scholarship was ultimately Green’s idea for a new sustainable campus.
He said it would allow for more integrated and interdisciplinary learning at the college with effort to integrate all programs on campus and build a greater focus on sustainability.
“I wanted to build the model as a way of physically showing anybody who would be interested, other professors, administrators, etc., what we could do if we decided to [implement it], and the students got into it big time. I have to tell you, it’s probably the most enthusiastic I’ve ever seen students about a project,” Green said.
On the architecture side of things, Associate Professor of Architecture Bart Sapeta worked with his students to come up with the physical representation, while the sociology students worked with the big idea.
The students involved with project understood from the get-go that there was no guarantee that model would be brought to life, but the idea that they would play a role if it ever did happen was exciting for them, Green said.
Green said he reported the incident to Campus Safety, but hasn’t heard anything regarding the investigation.
In terms of why something like this could happen, Green said he thought it could be one of two things: either someone spontaneously wanted to trash it or, because the word “REMOVE” was written on it, it could have been something politically related.
“We created this model, it’s like a new vision for learning and organization of the college around sustainability, integrative studies, the college has identified that as a key theme, and now somebody’s vandalized our model. So what is that telling us? Does that mean maybe people don’t think that’s a good idea? I mean, who knows,” Green said.
KSC alumnus of the class of 2015, management major and key player in the development of the Thomson Center model Ryan Cathcart said the project meant a number of things to him, including an opportunity to turn a passion for sustainability into something much larger.
Additionally, he saw it as a way to benefit KSC and make it better than when he had first arrived.
Considering the model was built on the best intentions, Cathcart said, he said hearing it was vandalized was disappointing. “In hearing about the model being vandalized, I was first disappointed that someone would disrespect something that took so many hours to make, something that was built on the best intentions.
Afterwards, however, I came to focus more on the silver lining, that there could be benefit in the renewed attention to this project, and hopefully some student could take interest and pick it up where we left off.”
Sapeta said he was unsure of the reason for the vandalism, but it’s sad someone would destroy the work of students.
“I hope that this incident has nothing to do with the broader number of incidents of vandalism on campus, that it has nothing to do with attacking the students or the people involved in the project or even the idea of the project, and I don’t want to marginalize that, but I hope it’s just somebody maybe got frustrated and that was their way of relieving their frustration, but even that is wrong.”
However, he said he hopes the project can still be utilized with ways of implementing some parts of it.
Another key player in the development of the model, Jacob Pastor, an architecture major and alumnus of the class of 2015, agreed with Sapeta.
“I hope that other students continue with our project. I would love to see what the next stage of the project is,” Pastor said.
He also said this project was important to KSC. Not only did it spearhead the efforts to make sustainability a minor, he said, but it brought light to the importance of sustainability as a whole.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at email@example.com