A number of crosses used by the conservative Young America's Foundation during an anti-abortion event last month were defaced in a Marvin Center office, and a member of the College Democrats has taken responsibility.
Members of the College Republicans found the crosses on Monday evening scattered around the office they share with the College Democrats. One was pinned upside down on a bulletin board and draped with a condom. Another featured a depiction of Jesus on the cross along with the words "pwned" and "lol," and others were emblazoned with "Darwin," "Take a condom" and "Amelia West," the vice president of the CDs.
Brandon Hines, communication director for the CRs, said he first saw the vandalized crosses during his office hours Monday night. Pictures were taken and sent to members of the CR executive board in the room at the time. The photos later appeared on conservative filmmaker Pat Dollard's blog on Wednesday.
YAF president Rob Lockwood learned of the vandalism from the blog post. A New York-area church had donated the crosses to YAF for a commemoration of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in University Yard last week.
"It's completely inappropriate," he said. "It's private property and disrespectful on a number of levels. If they want to do that in their apartment they would have the right to, but these were on display in a public student office."
It is the second time in recent years that YAF has clashed with left-leaning students following an incident in 2007 when an anti-war group used satirical posters to ridicule an event about Muslim extremism.
A statement from the CDs Thursday morning said a member of their organization had come forward and apologized for the vandalism. The perpetrator was expelled from the organization, but not named in the statement.
"We would never as an organization sanction such reprehensible conduct and we are tremendously upset that the organization's trust was violated by a member who chose to act otherwise," the statement said.
West also personally acknowledged the damage done by the incident.
"A simple apology is not enough to make up for the feelings of those affected and we ask all to realize that our organization has been hurt by this too," West said in an e-mail. "And now is the time for us to come together - Democrats, Republicans, believers of all faiths - and bring healthy closure to this incident while embracing the tenets of respect in this academic community."
When contacted by The Hatchet, members of the CD executive board declined to comment further.
Lockwood said the incident was reported to the University Police Department, and the crosses are now in the department's custody.
University spokeswoman Tracy Schario said the student responsible has been identified by the University and will face disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct. UPD is investigating the incident further.
University President Steven Knapp condemned the student's actions in a statement.
"Such actions are unacceptable and utterly incompatible with the spirit of mutual respect that is essential to the life of an academic community," he said.
CR Chairman Brand Kroeger said he appreciated the College Democrats' response.
"The leadership of the College Democrats has been very apologetic during our conversations and we look forward to resolving this situation," he said.
Student Association President Vishal Aswani said he respects the actions taken by the CDs, CRs and YAF to stand together during this time.
Aswani said, "The entire Student Association stands together in [condemning] acts such as these and we look forward to seeing the student who admitted to these acts go through the university judicial process."