**Vandals repeatedly target Haystack Monument at Williams College**
A Christian monument at a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts has been repeatedly defaced by vandals this past month. Williams College’s Haystack Monument was spray-painted with satanic phrases written in red graffiti, desecrating the over 150-year-old monument honoring missionaries.
President Maud Mandel addressed the issue and expressed the college’s commitment to a safe community. The monument initially faced controversy in 2016 when the college’s Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History questioned its relevance in the present day.
**Increased security patrols aim to protect the historic monument**
The continuous vandalism of the Christian Haystack Monument situated in Williams College, a private liberal arts institution in Massachusetts, has raised alarm in the past month. The College Fix reported that vandals defaced the monument, dedicated to missionaries, with satanic phrases written in red graffiti which included “Pagan Rule,” “Blood,” “Ouch,” “Hail Satan,” among other obscenities. The brazen acts of desecration happened multiple times, despite President Maud Mandel’s commitment to creating a safe community on campus.
In response to the first instance of vandalism, Mandel acknowledged that the Haystack Monument had been a focal point for ongoing campus discussions about Williams’ institutional history and addressed resources available for those affected. Additionally, Mandel swiftly ensured the graffiti was cleaned up by the custodial staff. Nevertheless, the incidents continued, with vandals yet again spray-painting the monument in the college’s Mission Park with harmful phrases like “Hell is hot,” “Shame on you,” “Ouch,” and more.
Subsequently, Mandel released another statement concerning the second incident. In an effort to address this problematic repetition, she announced the increase in security patrols around the monument’s area to deter further acts of vandalism. However, the perpetrators remain unidentified.
Reiterating her dedication to fostering a safe environment for all students and faculty at Williams College, Mandel addressed the potential impact these defamations might have on certain individuals’ sense of belonging. The historic Haystack Monument, a 12-foot marble pillar erected in 1867, commemorates five former students who became Christian missionaries after seeking shelter under a haystack during a storm. The monument, however, gained criticism in 2016 from the college’s Committee on Campus Space and Institutional History, questioning the significance of such a tribute in the present day and debating the subject of “what the present owes the past.”
At the time, Kevin Murphy, senior curator of American art at Williams College Museum of Art, explained the challenges associated with contextualizing the Haystack Monument. He noted the history of missionaries might be difficult to separate from American and European colonial expansion and emphasized the institution’s previous emphasis on Christianity. He posed the question, “how do we create context for the Haystack Monument?” as Williams College evolved to become an institution with students and faculty from different faiths or no religious belief at all.
**Determined efforts in place to ensure safety and preserve history**
While the vandals remain unidentified, the Haystack Monument’s safety and preservation are now a top priority. With increased security patrols and ongoing discussions regarding the monument’s history and relevance, Williams College is determined to uphold the sanctity of its campus and maintain a safe environment for all.