BREAKING: Statue of Virgin Mary vandalized a second time

mailgooglecomClean as of 5:15

Update: Facilities has already cleaned up all signs of the vandalism. Anyone catch a glimpse of what the vandalism entailed this time?

Georgetown’s Office of Student Affairs reports in an email (full text after the jump) that last night, and unknown suspect vandalized the statue of the Virgin Mary on Copley Lawn. This, of course, is the second time someone vandalized this statue (the first being sometime before February 22) and the third campus incident in which someone vandalized a statue (someone painted the face of Jan Karski’s statue red).

Weirdly, they don’t report the specifics of what happened to the statue this time. I assume it was painted (photograph to follow, unless Facilities has already completed clean-up): “This morning University officials became aware that the statue of the Blessed Mother on Copley Lawn was vandalized overnight.  This incident is the most recent to have been reported over the past several weeks where paint has been used to deface religious symbols and other property in our community.”

The email reports that in response to this incident, DPS is ramping up security efforts around statues and religious spaces (DPS smacks forehead) and is the first of the emails to introduce the Metropolitan Police Department into the mix:

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) called the Metropolitan Police Department to report this incident and request cooperation in the ongoing investigation of these acts of vandalism.  DPS is also increasing patrols of campus, with a particular emphasis on areas that include the presence of statues, religious symbols and sacred spaces.

Once again, nothing seems to be known about the perpetrator, including whether the incidents are related.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

This morning University officials became aware that the statue of the Blessed Mother on Copley Lawn was vandalized  overnight.  This incident is the most recent to have been reported over the past several weeks where paint has been used to deface religious symbols and other property in our community.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) called the Metropolitan Police Department to report this incident and request cooperation in the ongoing investigation of these acts of vandalism.  DPS is also increasing patrols of campus, with a particular emphasis on areas that include the presence of statues, religious symbols and sacred spaces.

All acts of vandalism on campus are troubling because they undermine the mutual respect we try to foster in our University community. That the target of this most recent incident again included a sacred statue makes the act of particular concern.  As a Catholic and Jesuit university committed to interreligious understanding, we expect that all religious symbols and sacred spaces on campus are respected.

We do not know the motivation of the person or persons responsible for these incidents, nor whether they are members of the campus community.  If a member of the campus community is found to be responsible the matter will be treated very seriously, including as a violation of the student code of conduct.  If anyone has information about the defacement of the statue of the Blessed Mother or other recent incidents of vandalism on campus, please contact DPS at 202-687-4343.

Sincerely,

Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Rocco DelMonaco
Vice President for University Safety

Photo by Dominique Barron for the Voice.

12 Comments on “BREAKING: Statue of Virgin Mary vandalized a second time

  1. Why is Todd Olson always so weak? It would be nice to see them take a harsher tone. Anyone who shows a lack of respect for both the campus and the campus community through acts of vandalism (not to mention repeated acts of vandalism on sacred statues and spaces) has absolutely NO PLACE at Georgetown. Anyone caught committing such an act should be summarily expelled. And Todd Olson should make that explicitly clear if they want to actually take this seriously. Saying that a “violation of the student code of conduct” sounds like a slap on the wrist….it’s practically the same language they had on those absurd posters telling people not to steal from Leo’s because it violated the “honor code” we signed.

  2. I don’t know about paint or any other topical defacement, but it definitely looks as though somebody took a chunk out of the Blessed Mother’s face. Has she always looked like the Spinx?

    There is a strange differential here, to the degree that I am not sure whether to be more bothered by the fact that this rather blameless unassuming statue has been vandalized a second time, or that there is a second twenty-four hour vigil happening on Copley Lawn right now. The first indicates to me that there are some seriously repressed people at this school who need to a) get a grip on themselves and overcome their antipathy toward stylized icons of motherhood, and b) be kept far away from spray paint. The fact that a second vigil is being staged indicates to me that there is a population of students on campus who need a better outlet for their religious energies. My question to them: Do you really think that the Blessed Mother in her infinite compassion asks that you shiver miserably in a tent for the duration of the night in order to safeguard one of millions of representations of her all over the world? It might seem more practical to me to hire one of those Securitas idiots away from his beat on 35th Street, so that you can take the opportunity to stay at home and contemplate ways to better represent your devotion.

  3. Also, to the editor of the blog, a housekeeping note: posts are still appearing in pre-daylight savings time format.

  4. RobbingPeter- I find it offensive that you call those moved to stage a second vigil as needing to “get a grip on themselves.” This is no business to you.

  5. RobbingPeter- I am not Catholic, nor do I feel moved to vigil, but I definitely think that students on campus who do feel moved in that way shouldn’t be mocked. If nothing else, they might be more effective at preventing further damage than DPS.

    Anyone have any guesses as to who is responsible? I think expulsion is definitely not too harsh, especially if the party(ies) responsible is a multiple offender.

  6. Re: Also, to the editor of the blog, a housekeeping note: posts are still appearing in pre-daylight savings time format.
    It doesn’t help that my computer is still on pre-daylight savings Central time, either.

  7. Perhaps the urge for recidivism would be reduced if they didn’t provide campuswide attention to each incident…

  8. Pabs, I wasn’t telling those who stage a second vigil to get a grip on themselves. I was telling those who vandalized the statue to do that. In fact I probably could and should have used stronger language.

    Meredith, I’m not Catholic either, but I do manage to maintain a healthy respect for things and ideas that other people regard as sacred. At the heart of the sacred is the spontaneous will for devotion, and however that manifests itself, provided that nobody is hurt or endangered, should be regarded with respect. I apologize if I came off as insensitive, as it wasn’t my intent.

    My concern is not about the vigil’s devotional nature: the devotion inherent in a vigil is beautiful and profound. It’s just troubling to me that for most non-Catholic hoyas, the most visible outpouring of faith that we see from the Catholics on campus is in response to trauma like this. Other religious events take place in closed-off spaces like Dahlgren and Copley, and for the most part the uninvolved members of the student body don’t see people taking part in religious practices. When we do it can seem alienating or exclusive. That being said, there is no apparent solution to this: as the old saying goes, God is personal, but religion is public. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  9. “Perhaps the urge for recidivism would be reduced if they didn’t provide campuswide attention to each incident…”

    See, I see that as saying “Perhaps people would stop doing hate crimes if we didn’t spotlight them and ignored them instead.”

  10. We were visiting Georgetown when it happened; unfortunately my three-year-old daughter, who loves visiting this particular statue of Our Lady, was the first to see the defacement. I could never have imagined how disturbing it could be to see something like this. Thankfully, two administrators, including a priest, were standing near the statue and were there to comfort us. I’m not a particularly pious person, but the experience of seeing the defaced statue was absolutely horrifying and has haunted me all week. Suffice to say that the second defacement was more disgusting than the first. I do commend the university for handling it so quickly. I hope this will be the last of it, but the vandalism seems to be escalating.

  11. GO FUCK YOUR SELF YOU ARE GOING TO HELL IM GOD AND I SAY BREAK ALL THE STATUES

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