By Theresa Diffendal
Flowers of various hues bloomed overnight during the last weekend of March–spray-painted flowers, that is. On March 25, a flower design appeared painted on the ground in various spots on Bryn Mawr’s campus. No one is sure who painted them or why.
At 12:19 p.m.on March 25, Marit Eiler ’20 posted an inconspicuous message on the Bryn Mawr Class of 2020 Facebook page, asking, “Does anyone know what the deal is with the (flower?) stencil art in the Pem Arch area?”
The question initiated what would become a complicated web of rumors. Nine minutes after Eiler’s post, Alex Tucker ’20 replied, “I heard an unconfirmed account that it’s some [Villa]nova Greek-life thing.” Over an hour later, Kristiana Marcopoulos ’18 seemed to confirm Villanova’s role. She wrote, “[It’s] apparently a nova sorority thing.”
Over the next two and a half hours the post accumulated about a dozen replies. Some were angry about the presence of Villanova students on the campus, while others simply wanted those responsible for the graffiti to be held accountable. Eiler commented, “Here’s hoping [the Villanova sorority] have to pay for/do the removal.”
At 5:38 p.m., Toby Makowski ’18 posted on the Class of 2020 Facebook group asking for any witnesses who might have seen Villanova spray painting the flowers to come forth. “BMC campus safety is looking for eyewitness testimonies so that they can bill Villanova for literally defacing BMC property,” he said.
An unknown amount of time later Makowski edited the post with an update reading, “so we def know it’s villanova’s sorority delta gamma! they legitimately reserved rhoads dining hall, but their vandalism have to be directly linked to them in order to make villanova pay for repairs. if you thought you saw something please message me or reply to the [Campus Safety] email! [sic]”
The email to which Makowski was referring was an alert message sent by Bryn Mawr College Campus Safety at 5:52 p.m. that same day. It read, “We are aware of the graffiti and vandalism across campus and are conducting an investigation. If you have any information that may assist us in identifying the person(s) who committed this crime, please contact Campus Safety at 610-526-7911.” There was no mention of Villanova.
Yet Makowski’s post continued to accumulate comments until March 27. Links were posted to Instagram pictures from individuals in Villanova’s Delta Gamma sorority as proof that Delta Gamma was at Bryn Mawr on March 25. Makowski even called the Villanova Head of Greek Life.
The situation sparked intense anger among Bryn Mawr students. “I say we retaliate,” Molly Marion ’20, commented, “I think we should retaliate with something that we can’t be arrested for.”
One student voiced disagreement, but two others replied that it was a “good idea”, before Makowski stepped in to bring the focus back to finding eyewitnesses for the purpose of paying for the vandalism.
In an interview with Campus Safety, Director of Operations at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Lil Burroughs confirmed that a Villanova sorority was on campus on Saturday, March 25.
“What we can confirm is that the students did rent space in Rhoads. I think that should be public knowledge,” Burroughs said. “Students have been coming here for years to celebrate their sororities… It was signed out, it was rented space, they went through Conferences and Events legitimately.”
In a later interview, Makowski admitted that there was no proof that Villanova is responsible for the flower graffiti. Instead, he said, “It is a super suspicious coincidence that nova had their event at bmc that day and that one of their symbols is a rose [sic].” According to Delta Gamma’s official site DeltaGamma.org, the official symbol is the anchor, symbolic of “hope.”
Some individuals in the Bryn Mawr community told Makowski that they had friends at Villanova who could confirm that the graffiti was done by Villanova, but refused to send screenshots for fear of being associated with the crime. Makowski also reached out to a member of Delta Gamma sorority, who denied the allegation.
According to Makowski, Villanova’s reluctance to offer information only makes them seem more suspicious. “Now we can’t even fully confront [Villanova] because i had a meeting with [Campus Safety] and they basically said ‘nova sent us a cease and desist notice, please stop “harassing” nova people about the incident,'” he said.
Not everyone is convinced that Villanova was responsible for the graffiti. About an hour after the original post was made, Abbygail Brewster ’18 replied, “the campus was tagged before 6:50 [a.m. March 25]…I had tennis and saw it then. So it might not have been the all [sic] the specific people in Rhoads.”
Caitlin Haskett ’20 also claimed that the graffiti was done before the Villanova Sorority’s arrival to campus. ” I saw one of the flowers at like 2:30 a.m.” Campus Safety’s report correlates with these observations, as they received two reports from Bryn Mawr students about the flower graffiti before Villanova arrived on campus.
The official report from Kim Callahan, the Associate Director for Investigations, and Burroughs of Campus Safety says that the graffiti incident is still an active investigation. “At this point we don’t have any information,” said Callahan. “At this point there’s no evidence to prove who did it, whether it was a student on campus or off campus.”
Burroughs called on Bryn Mawr’s student body to come forward with any knowledge they might have. “I’m very frustrated with our students,” she said. “We know someone on our campus saw something and they’re not telling us. Same thing with the banners that were stolen during WTF week. I’m frustrated that we don’t have students coming forward to help our investigation find both the banners and the cause of the graffiti.”
As a final thought Burroughs added, “If the students can help us with some kind of confidential reporting I’m open because I know that students are afraid [of potential consequences].”
If you have any information about the flower graffiti, please contact Campus Safety at 610-526-7911.