There has been a lot of concern about the vandalism that occurred at the Fence this past week. The popular opinion on campus is that the damage caused to the Fence goes against school values and undermines the history that the monument stands for. Authorities suspect that a first-year took a hacksaw to the Fence, cutting into the structure about one-third of the way to the supports and peeling off many layers of paint.
While it is true that this was an act of blatant vandalism, another point of view should be considered as well. Just as in the dust of destruction lie the seeds of creation, the damage caused to the Fence illustrates Carnegie Mellon University’s collective history by showing just how deep the paint really is. So many years of paint, pride, education, and spirit have gone into decorating the Fence and using it to advertise for school clubs and events. Being able to see under the layers for just a few minutes was an experience in itself.
Because Carnegie Mellon’s students are so busy with their respective studies, I sometimes feel like we lack a sense of community. The vandalism caused to the Fence was one of those rare moments at Carnegie Mellon where students came together for more than their own personal interests — whether it be a club they participate in, some part of their studies, or something they do to escape from their student life — and for a few brief moments there was a community of peers. This fleeting sense of community transcended what the students who gathered were studying, the specific colleges they were in, and even where they came from, so that they could express their appreciation for the history and the value they find in the university.
It is unfortunate that the Fence had to be damaged, but it is better to see the good in these kinds of situations rather than perpetuate the attitudes that most likely caused a student to act out in this way. Perhaps there should be a new school tradition of cutting off a small layer once a year, a sort of renewal ceremony celebrating Carnegie Mellon’s community in the spring. Either that, or the Fence should become an open spot where students can congregate, come to exchanges, and perhaps even make new acquaintances. All in all, the damage to the Fence does not affect anyone’s daily life, and should not be taken too seriously. Treat it as a lesson, and keep learning.