A Christian monument at a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts has been repeatedly defaced by vandals this past month, the College Fix reported.
Williams College’s Haystack Monument was spray-painted with satanic phrases written in red graffiti.
The first attack occurred in mid-May, according to a press release from the college. Vandals desecrated the over 150-year-old monument with phrases including “Pagan Rule,” “Blood,” “Ouch,” “Hail Satan,” and an obscenity.
Williams College President Maud Mandel stated that a Campus Safety officer discovered the graffiti after midnight on Saturday, May 13.
“The Haystack Monument has been a focal point for ongoing campus discussions about Williams’ institutional history. We expect those discussions to continue in the next academic year,” Mandel said, referring to campus controversy regarding the monument’s history. “Meanwhile, our colleagues in the Chaplains’ Office and the Davis Center, among other areas, are available to talk with anyone concerned about the impact of this incident on themselves or our community.”
She noted that the graffiti was promptly cleaned up by custodial staff.
The following weekend, vandals returned to deface the Christian monument in the college’s Mission Park.
Mandel released another statement regarding the second incident.
She reported that criminals once again used spray-paint to vandalize the monument with phrases including “Hell is hot,” “Shame on you,” “Ouch,” and an obscenity.
Mandel stated that she would be increasing security patrols in the area around the monument.
The perpetrators remain unidentified.
“Given that the Monument memorializes the Christian missionary movement, some people may experience these incidents as attacks on your religion or you personally. You belong here, and I will work for your and everyone’s right to a safe community,” the president wrote.
Williams College’s Haystack Monument is a 12-foot marble pillar that was erected in 1867 to commemorate five former students who became “Christian missionaries while taking shelter during a storm under a haystack” and went on to found an American missionary movement.
The Haystack Monument initially faced criticism in 2016 when the college’s Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History reviewed the historic work of art. The committee aimed to address “what the present owes the past.”
In 2016, Kevin Murphy, senior curator of American art at Williams College Museum of Art, told the Fix that “the history of missionaries is also difficult to separate from American and European colonial expansion.”
“At the time, Williams had a strong emphasis on Christianity and it was common for graduates to become ministers,” Murphy stated. “Now we are an institution with students and faculty from lots of different faiths or no religious belief at all, and no longer have mandatory chapel attendance.”
“So the question becomes how do we create context for the Haystack Monument?” he added.
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