Vandalized international monument returns to campus


Owen Barbato

The international student monument has been reinstated after it was vandalized and repaired.

Ashley Baek, Staff Writer

The Middle of Everywhere Pole located between Younker Hall and the Joe Rosenfield Center (JRC) has finally returned to campus almost a year after it was first vandalized and taken down to be repaired in November 2021.

“The damage was similar to if someone had reached up and pulled off the spokes, which bent them and even pulled one off completely,” said Karen Edwards, dean of the office of international student affairs.

The pole was originally erected in December 2020, through a gift from the 2019-2020 International Student Organization (ISO) cabinet, and consisted of a pole with signs pointing in several directions to different cities across the world, showing the distance to them in kilometers.

“We think of this as ‘The Middle of Everywhere Pole’ because it’s saying people are coming and going from all over the world. Home is partially here, home is also very far away. The pole gives us a sense of place and celebration of direction,” said Edwards.

Calvin Tang `20, former vice president of the 2019-2020 ISO cabinet, expressed his disappointment in the vandalism, saying “It came as a surprise for me. As an international student, it didn’t feel good at all.”

“It does hurt a bit, not knowing the significance as people thought it was a random street sign. I’m more frustrated that the significance was lost to the vandalizers. I’m not very happy about it,” Tang added.

Edwards echoed this disappointment and said, “The vandalism is tragic and sad for this campus. We have no idea exactly when or how it happened and whether it was malicious. I just remember feeling really bugged about it. But it felt more important to us to just turn it around, and get it back up and move forward.”

She said that replacing the sign took longer than expected due to supply chain challenges and that ASI Signage Innovations was tasked with the repairs. “They do all the College’s signage, so they were involved with the new manufacturing of this one.”

The pole has now returned with slight changes: it is taller, has stronger prongs and welds and has more vertical spacing from the ground to the signs to make them harder to reach and therefore prevent future vandalism, according to Edwards.

As for the signs, they now respectively include the native language of each country and represent the home countries of former ISO presidents. “We wanted to pick countries that felt representative as opposed [to] just picking random places.”

Jivyaa Vaidya `23, current president of ISO, expressed her contentment in seeing the Middle of Everywhere Pole back on campus. “Seeing that the pole was back was really nice. I don’t know a single person who wasn’t happy to see it,” she said

“I hope everybody feels impacted by it in a positive way so that it helps them think about the sense of belonging and space in this new home and place,” said Edwards.

“The Middle of Everywhere sign is more permanent than the gallery of flags in the Spencer Grill, or any other place, for the international students to the campus. To have something more built into the architecture of the College, for us international students, that’s a nice gesture,” said Tang.