The unsolicited, unsanctioned recoloring of the “D” on Black Ridge may have caused some general annoyance among those charged with keeping it tidy, but there have not been formal charges filed.
The university’s lighted symbol on the west end of the valley changed from its usual stark white post-sunset glow to an uneven red. Some community members may have thought the college was behind the color shift, but it was actually the work of a mischief-maker.
Don Reid, head of Dixie State University campus security, said vandalism is taken very seriously both at a campus level and at the city level. He said vandalism can lead to getting expelled from the college and could result in criminal charges.
However, the relighting of the “D” doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of vandalism.
“I don’t know that any damage was caused,” Reid said. “We haven’t really received any complaints about it. If someone had kicked the lights out, or if the red had stained the lights, and there was damage (then it would be considered vandalism).”
Reid said the prank could be considered criminal mischief at worst. But since no property was damaged, there are no charges pending against the unnamed prankster.
X-Club President Rhett Sullivan, a senior communication major from Hurricane, said the scarlet letter was meant to be a joke.
The X-Club is in charge of keeping the “D” clean and whitewashed, in addition to preserving other traditions at the school, Sullivan said.
“The X-Club is like an honorary title,” Sullivan said. “We are to keep traditions alive. We are responsible for changing the lights on the ‘D’ for Homecoming Week, and we are responsible for cleaning it and painting it once a year, so I am familiar with changing the bags on the lights to make it shine red.”
While the relighting of the “D” doesn’t legally fall under the definition of vandalism, Sullivan said defacement has happened in the past, and it’s most likely to continue if there aren’t measures put into place.
“People go to vandalize the ‘D’ all the time,” Sullivan said. “The biggest issue is [it’s] on school property, so it is illegal.”
Jordon Sharp, director of student involvement and leadership, said the DSU Student Association will be installing signs making it clear that the “D” is on university property and that trespassing charges could be filed if necessary.
“Right now we are in the process of making plaques and signs to prove that the area by the ‘D’ is owned by DSU,” Sharp said. “Nobody really thinks about that part of the mountain being owned by anyone, but it is owned by the university. It is considered trespassing to go up there and can result with a fine.”
Sharp said he can see the appeal for climbing up to the “D,” but he said students would be better off if they simply steered clear of the monumental letter.
“People climb up to the mountain that says ‘Dixie’ all the time, so they automatically assume they can go up to the ‘D,’” Sharp said. “Once again, the problem is that it is illegal.”
Sullivan said the culprit was found out, and the mess ultimately ended up getting taken care of.
Although this bit of tomfoolery didn’t warrant any criminal charges, Reid warns that it doesn’t take much to step from criminal mischief to vandalism.
[A vandal] can be taken before the student affairs committee and be expelled,” Reid said about any student who actually does damage to the “D” or other school property. “Very simply, it’s a criminal act.”