By Maria Elliot
Vandalism has been occurring on campus and in the Wick Avenue parking deck at Youngstown State University.
YSU Police Chief Shawn Varso said there isn’t an identified suspect in relation to the graffiti that showed up in the Wick deck elevator in early October.
Multiple similar graffiti signatures have appeared throughout the parking garage and the writing inside of the elevator looks to be the latest in the group.
Varso said there are varying degrees of vandalism that occur across campus and each can carry a different legal repercussion.
He said less damaging forms of vandalism where the graffiti can easily be cleaned would legally be considered criminal mischief.
According to Varso, criminal mischief is a third-degree misdemeanor and carries a penalty of 30 days or more in jail and a $500 fine. More significantly damaging vandalism could be considered a felony with up to six months in jail and over $1,000 in fines and repair costs.
“Depending on what it is, it could be pretty pricey. If you’re talking electronic equipment, computers, things like that, you know, you could get up into thousands of dollars that you would be responsible for,” he said.
Martyn Moss, manager of building services at YSU, said police are usually contacted when graffiti contains threatening or negative messages.
He said the university contracts out janitorial services for three zones on campus.
According to Moss, Compass Family and Community Services is responsible for one zone of campus and Core Facility Services is responsible for the other two zones, which have recently been combined.
He said the contracted companies determine how many square feet the janitorial staff are responsible for when it comes to daily tasks, and cleaning up graffiti can put extra pressure on them.
“It takes them away from their day-to-day stuff,” he said.
Moss said janitorial staff see vandalism and graffiti most often in elevators and restrooms.
He also mentioned that there are many forms of vandalism occurring on campus that people may not realize are damaging to property.
Stickers, etchings or drawings on desks and even flyers stapled to walls can be considered vandalism, according to Moss.
He said if graffiti is too difficult to remove, the university may have to contract someone to strip paint off the walls or even grind them down.
John Hyden, YSU’s associate vice president of facilities maintenance, said another form of vandalism could be clogging up toilets with paper towels on campus, which he said happens often.
“Every little bit of it is a waste of resources because there’s no excuse for it — there’s no reason it should occur,” he said.
Hyden said any kind of vandalism is a strain on the university and a waste of time for administrators and custodians. He also said the added costs from cleaning vandalism ultimately factors into students’ bills.
“It’s a waste of your resources because you’re the one paying tuition,” he said of students.
If students see graffiti or other vandalism on campus, they should contact [email protected] or the YSU police at 330-941-3527.