Caution: Wet paint

By Laura Cantera and Dave Johnson NewsNet Staff Writers - 5 Oct 2002
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Andy von Harten
Repairing the damage from the paint will cost thousands of dollars.

In an act of sheer audacity, vandals desecrated BYU's most celebrated icon - the block "Y".

"This is the worst the Y has been hit in a decade," said Roy Peterman, grounds director for BYU.

Vandals dumped about two dozen gallons of latex paint of various colors, onto the Y late Wednesday night Oct. 2 or early Thursday morning Oct. 3.

"You got purple, red, orange, yellow, maroon, all different colors of paint," said Chris Jacobs, a student and grounds crew worker.

Peterman said the amount of paint used and the area covered makes this a serious offense.

"Because it costs so much, it's significant," he said. "It's more than a misdemeanor."

He also said that no part of the Y went unsoiled.

Cleanup crews began work shortly after the problem was noticed Oct. 3, Peterman said.

Crew hauled more than 60 gallons of white paint and pressurized paint sprayers up the mountain as a quick fix to temporarily cover the Technicolor treatment.

"Somebody's decided to cause some significant damage," Peterman said. "We won't get it looking pristine again until spring, when things dry up."

The National Forest Service owns the land on which the Y sits, but BYU has responsibility for maintenance of the symbol as part of a conditional use permit.

The restoration will cost thousands of dollars.

BYU officials have not determined a motive in the crime.

"You're asking me to interpret a twisted mind," Peterman said. "I've tried that enough times and I've come to the conclusion that that it is quite impossible."

Officials have not named any suspects at the present time, although some students think they have the mystery solved.

"I assume it's Utah State," Jacobs said. "I mean, BYU plays USU tonight. I bet it was them because it wasn't red."

Quinton Parks, 21, a sophomore from Parker, Colo., majoring in zoology, said he believes there should be definite penalties.

"Interviews with bishops, stake presidents, whatever it takes," he said.

Students are discouraged by the crime.

"I think it's horrible. It's just bad to write on the Y," Parks said. "It's not the right place to do any writing. If you wanted to write some stuff, you should do it on the proper writing tablets."

Other students have mixed emotions.

Michael Westover, 22, a junior from Los Angeles, majoring in pre-communications, said he would only be disturbed by the crime if it were in the name of a rivalry.

"Free speech, I respect that," he said. "Unless it's red, I don't have a problem with it."

Yet Westover is scared for the future of BYU.

"People will be painting the naked Indian, next thing you know," Westover said. "Brigham Young, they could be putting hats on him. We're never safe. We're never safe. We need to draw the line somewhere and it might as well be at the Y."

Peterman urges anyone with information regarding the crime to contact the police.

"I feel sad that people would compromise their moral integrity to lower themselves to such behavior," Peterman said.

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