A theft? A harmless prank? Something in between? These labels have been attached to the disappearance of the George Pepperdine statue an event that has become a popular talking point around campus yet remains clouded by rumor and myth as both the University and the heisters remain silent.
The only official report of the investigation is the short and vague account in the Public Safety Activity Log. At 3:28 a.m. on Sunday Oct. 17 the following entry was added: “A staff member reported that a statue was missing. Public safety recovered the stolen statue.”
Currently the statue is undergoing cosmetic repairs as a result of the removal and will be reinstalled shortly said Jerry Derloshon Pepperdine’s executive director of public relations.
On the morning of Oct. 16 news of the statue spread quickly accelerated by the Facebook status updates and wall posts many making light of the situation.
During the DPS investigation officers entered Banowsky Residence Hall at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning in search of a suspect said the dorm’s Spiritual Life Adviser Hayes Johnson. Johnson who said he is “very good friends” with the student DPS officers tried to contact that night confirmed that the student in question was involved with the incident. He also said that six to eight other students all members of the Psi Upsilon pledge class were also involved in the theft.
Johnson said the statue was found in the back of a vehicle parked on campus. The vehicle was registered with the university so DPS officers were able to track the owner back to Banowsky said Hayes. The judicial hearing has yet to occur so a sentence or punishment cannot be ascertained.
In light of the facts many in the Pepperdine community are uncertain whether the taking of the statue was a serious theft or a college prank.
“The intentions were that of a prank assured Johnson. But it came off as more than a prank because they stole something that cost a lot of money.”
Dean of Students Mark Davis attested to that in an e-mail.
” Generous donors who wished to honor our founder donated over $100000 to create the statue of George Pepperdine Davis wrote. It’s the job of the Student Disciplinary Committee made up of students faculty and staff to determine if the removal of the statue was a theft or a prank (or both).”
Michael Zakian museum director for the Weisman Museum of Art told Newswaves last week that the Pepperdine community shouldn’t think of the statue as a toy but as a work of art. He expressed concern over the fragile nature of bronze statues in general.
“I’m most concerned with the finish of the work because every bronze has a chemical coating called patina which helps protect the metal from oxidation Zakian told Newswaves. And if the bronze is mishandled and the patina is scraped the only way to repair that is to actually strip the entire piece down to the bare metal and reapply the patina chemical coating once again.”
While Pepperdine administration remains tight-lipped about the details of the case the student body does not seem perturbed by the theft. As of 8 p.m. Tuesday night an unscientific poll at pepperdine-graphic.com showed that out of 140 respondents 72 percent believed the statue thieves should not face disciplinary action and 19 percent said they should. 9 percent said they didn’t care.
While the statue’s disappearance became the punchline of many Facebook statuses and Twitter updates this week word of the story has died down in the past few days.
“A lot of guys in the dorm were talking about it right when it happened Johnson said. It’s not as big anymore.”
With an upcoming hearing and some facts of the case still uncertain the fate and legacy of the statue-movers remains to be seen.
“The committee will not make a decision until after they have reviewed all the facts and given the students involved the opportunity to share their side of the story Davis concluded.