Vandals target president of USM in campus graffiti

October 30

HATTIESBURG — University of Southern Mississippi students trooped to class Friday morning and found abusive graffiti written in chalk and shoe polish on nine campus buildings.

Some of the phrases read “Impeach Saunders.” Others substituted “impeach” with earthier language.

Buildings marked included the Liberal Arts Building, the Theater and Dance Building and the Joseph Cook Library. The graffiti even reached the stained-glass windows of Danforth Chapel.

Campus police say they are searching for three males who perpetrated the act between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday. As of Friday evening, no suspects had been apprehended.

A university news release said that depending on the damage, the vandalism could be classified as a misdemeanor or felony.

Students on campus say they assume the work was done by their peers angry with the budget cuts that could terminate 29 faculty members and 28 programs for the 2011-12 academic year. Appeals hearings are ongoing.

Katie Funk, 22, a political science major, didn’t see the graffiti but heard about it from classmates in her religion and politics class Friday morning in College Hall.

“I think the general feeling was that people were expressing their views but that they could have found a more diplomatic way of doing that,” she said.

Sophomore Courtney Seiler, 19, a biology major, was more emphatic.

“I thought it was rude. I don’t agree with it,” said Seiler, who witnessed the graffiti on her way to her anthropology class.

She said she senses a great deal of anger from students that wasn’t present during last year’s budget cuts.

“I’m on SGA (Student Government Association), and I hear both positive and negative sides of the situation, and unfortunately I do feel like there’s a lot of anger out about the cuts,” she said.

“I think a lot of them (the angry students) feel stuck. I think a lot of them feel like there are other things that could have been cut in place of their academic programs.”

Police Chief Bob Hopkins said the markings were easily removed with water, leaving no permanent damage.

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