College of William and Mary students take pride in our community of trust. It spares us anxiety and paranoia, while promoting greater respect for one another. However, that trust will always be fragile. All it takes is one person acting out of deception, disregard, disrespect or sheer idiocy. Unfortunately, that has happened again — this time as vandalism in Ewell Hall, where beer cans were left strewn inside a piano. While we value accessibility and openness, the College needs to institute limited swipe access to protect expensive equipment from vandalism.
Damaged equipment hurts students and the overall community. In Ewell, students use pianos to improve their musical talent, produce beautiful music, and learn new skills that will make them better, more well-rounded human beings. They, along with their faculty, spend countless hours working with and maintaining the pianos. To treat their time and energy with such disrespect is shameful and unbefitting of the College. Which is to say nothing of the potential cost: It is not as if the College has thousands of dollars to shell out on repairs and replacements. When we buy a piano, it needs to last a long time; the student body bears the cost.
It makes sense to protect expensive equipment with more security. This does not mean we have to make it harder for music students to access them. They have every right to be there, but students who are only there to cause trouble (and who are not relying on that equipment for their education) should be kept out unless granted special permission. Restricting swipe access to those students would go a long way toward preventing future vandalism and theft, which would very likely offset the cost of expanding the swipe system. This goes for instrumental practice rooms and other places where expensive equipment is located.
Guarding school equipment through swipe access would be a very small endeavor when compared to the all-encompassing swipe system upgrade the College underwent last year. Small changes and adjustments have helped the College maintain a healthy community throughout the years. It’s making sure the blue emergency lights are functioning properly and the lampposts are well lit, so students can walk around campus safely at night. It’s watching out for your fellow students, protecting them if necessary, even when the police are not around. In many cases, it’s respecting student and school property, even when your decision-making may be impaired by drugs and alcohol. That may not always be easy, but it is the price we need to pay for trust.
When a picture of beer cans stuffed in a Ewell Hall piano was posted on the Overheard at William and Mary Facebook page, the reaction was not of an immaturity befitting the culprits, but of indignation. Dozens of comments showed that students were genuinely upset that at least one of their peers would do something so disrespectful. Preserving our community still matters to most College students, and they will continue to fight for it. Now the College must do its part.
Abby Boyle recused herself from this staff editorial to remain unbiased in her reporting.