As students returned to campus for the fall semester, the last thing they expected to find was vandalism and theft. Two fraternities fell victim to break-ins this summer and, within the first week of classes, a student’s car was defaced.

Halfway through the summer break, Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) and Kappa Sigma both reported break-ins to areas in their house being used to store students’ personal items. At FIJI, the perpetrators wrote a racial slur on a mattress in a locked storeroom and blamed the graffiti on their neighboring fraternity, Kappa Sigma.

At Kappa Sigma, the perpetrators flipped couches, wrote various racial slurs and ended their rampage with a FIJI signature–causing thousands of dollars in damage. After conversations between both house leaders, the fraternities agreed that the perpetrators intentionally framed both houses, hoping to cover their tracks.

FIJI President Thomas Joven ’24 received notice of the incident while at home for the summer.

“[The brothers] went down to our basement storage area to find copious amounts of vandalism. They called Head of Campus Security Eugene “Buck” Waddell and Campus Security came in and said this issue was bigger than them and called the Crawfordsville Police Department,” Joven said.

At FIJI, the vandalism was discovered when a rush chairman was giving a tour to a prospective student and found the items within the storage room spray-painted with racial slurs.

“One of our rooms that had been used for storage was the room they got into,” said Joven. “They ripped some boxes open, scattered some stuff and continued to write racial slurs on our furniture.”

Damages incurred at Kappa Sigma were significantly greater than that of their neighbors; multiple Kappa Sigma brothers had personal property destroyed and did not know about it until weeks before the semester started.

“There were large amounts of physical damage to brothers’ personal furniture, College-owned furniture and our electronics. [There were] couch cushions covered in paint, concrete mix and glass on the floor and pretty much anything you could imagine,” said Kappa Sigma President Neal Laymon ’25.

The immediate response by both fraternities was to contact Campus Security, who then elected to bring the Crawfordsville Police Department in to investigate. Both the internal and external investigations are still ongoing. Because of this, Campus Security declined to comment on the recent criminal activity.

Two months later, another example of vandalism occurred when Jacob Ransford ’25 awoke to find his car windows shattered—the result of a tire hitch—and his sun roof demolished after a flag pole was jammed through it.

“I recall seeing my car in the distance on Saturday evening, then going to bed,” said Ransford. “I woke up to go to church in the morning and noticed that my car was destroyed. At that point, I called Campus Security.”

Campus Security is in the process of conducting investigations. However, conducting these investigations has been difficult considering the lack of cameras at Wabash as well as the time of night that the incidents occurred.

Although the victims have yet to hear of outcomes to any of these investigations, they are confident that both Campus Security and the Crawfordsville Police Department will eventually find the parties responsible.

“I think Waddell did an amazing job and he took care of me as best he could,” said Ransford. “He was reliable and told me everything that I needed to do with the officer. I ended up going to church. After I found the car, I was a little too overwhelmed, and then Buck called me during the service and said, ‘Hey, I saw your car, and I called Payzone.’ He took care of everything. Then the officer filed the police report.”

Although Campus Security has been responsive and communicative regarding the numerous  issues, some members of Wabash want the administration to re-evaluate the way they protect items going forward.

“We [Kappa Sigma] felt like we had taken up our end of the bargain to ensure our house was secured,” said Laymon. “We did everything right and to see the outcome, on the end of security and liability—it’s off-putting. Going forward, we are probably not going to partner with the College in terms of storage and we’re just going to take care of ourselves, whether that’s through a storage company or renting out somewhere.”

While campus leaders recognize that they incur the liability of damages to personal items they leave behind, they also expect a certain level of protection.

“The College does tell us every single break that we go home, that the liability is on us if we choose to leave behind our personal items,” said Joven.  “We ensure our guys have that understanding. We’ve got a pretty good relationship with the security guys and know they do their best. It’s still upsetting that this is happening.”

Going forward, students have asked that the College look into increasing the number of employees looking after the well-being of student items on campus.

“I hope additional, qualified people can be sought out to join the campus security team,” said Joven.

While investigations are ongoing, those affected are confident in the ability of Campus Security and the Crawfordsville Police Department to bring justice and closure.