Editorial: punishment needed for vandalism

There is a difference between vandalism and expression.
Graffiti is a form of vandalism that has been around for centuries. It has several different purposes, including tags for gangs, to convey a message or to create art. Not all are appealing to the eye and can be considered damaging, while others resemble murals or pieces that could be displayed publicly. The main problem is any form of graffiti on private property is considered a violation to Oregon law. It seems like a harmless act, even favorable, to those who crave imagination and craftsmanship in this town. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some business owners do not appreciate the art on their property. If the culprit is not caught, the company will have to remove it themselves, using valuable time and money that could have benefitted elsewhere.

On the other hand, different forms of vandalism occur that were clearly never out of positive intention, rather simple immaturity. The maintenance staff on campus has dealt with several cases of obliteration to particularly the boys restrooms. The people carrying out these acts probably do not take into consideration all the damage they are actually doing. It is not a staff member’s job to babysit high school students. Cleaning up after them and tracking them down to suspend them is a waste of time. Also, the few who perform the vandalism create a bad atmosphere for the entire school, and even the community. Some of the boys restrooms were locked up for weeks prior to spring break, creating a nuisance for all.

Crime all around has built up a sense of mistrust. Facilities that may have once been open for public use are now kept under close wraps. For example, many high school tracks are accessible to all. Marshfield’s is not only fully fenced in and locked, but also surrounded with barbed wire. The select few that do not appreciate an opportunity like an open track and instead vandalize or damage property are the reason it is closed. Often times, only the other side can see the full effect of the damage. In this case, if someone were to spray paint their favorite tag on the side of the football stadium, the people who would most likely be upset about it would be the people who use it regularly. They would never deface a place they love and that is why it is only open to them. So is the solution here that public facilities be open to only those mature enough to, per say, properly use a restroom?

Cases of high school vandalism should be treated with the same amount of severity as any other citizen: a $100 fine and 100 community service hours. As a matter of fact, it costs about $100 to replace a soap dispenser, which are frequently torn off the walls in Marshfield. Instead of a suspension, students would benefit more from having to see the other side of the situation they create. The full effect of what they have done will never show until they get the opportunity to see all the damage they cause for everyone else. While it may be fun causing trouble, they would not be laughing if they had to clean it up as well.