by Ollie Hancock
Over the summer break, the iconic signs brandishing the school’s name lost their letters again and again. Vandals would rip the acrylic letters from the wall over the course of a few nights before they were replaced. The sign might stay intact for a few days, then the cycle would start again. The signs had only recently been changed to read “Cal Poly Humboldt” with the new polytechnic designation.
The signs read like a game of hangman: “C_L PO_Y HUMBO_ _ _” one week and “_AL _OLY _UM_O_ _ _” the next. Replacing the sign letters isn’t an easy process either. It requires one member of maintenance staff to place the letters on the facade while another climbs inside the sign to tighten them. An anonymous source, one of the vandals, explained that pulling them out was much simpler.
“It was easy,” the anonymous individual said. “They popped right off.”
When asked why they pulled the letters down, the vandal explained that they were dissatisfied with the school. They faced backlash over the anonymous chat app Yik Yak, where users complained that their actions would increase surveillance and police presence in the community. This appears to have been borne out, as cameras were installed on light poles facing some of the signs over the summer.
“I think that the school is wrong for bringing in more cops to solve the problem,” the anonymous source said. “Why spend so much time and money fixing it when you could do something to show legitimate support for the community instead? They seem more worried about the signs than their students.”
There were a total of 54 acrylic letters stolen or broken over the course of the summer. UPD is actively investigating these incidents as repeated acts of vandalism.
“Unfortunately, signage is expensive and it’s costing the University thousands–nearly $16,000–to cover the amount of stolen lettering, replacement letters, and labor,” said Cal Poly Humboldt spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth. “If we need to change all the signs to metal letters, it will cost the University at least an additional $12,000.”
“[UPD has] increased patrols, and we will pursue the maximum penalty when the people responsible for the vandalism are caught,” Scott-Goforth said.
For the last weeks of summer, the signs sat blank. Facilities Management was able to re-letter most of the signs by the start of the semester, so families and new students could identify the campus. Two signs still remain empty on the intersections of 14th and Union St., and 14th and B St.
In addition to the increased patrols and surveillance, the University is considering replacing the current sign letters with harder-to-remove metal lettering.