by Lori Cruz
Monday morning at 7:30 a.m., the six University of La Verne fraternities and sororities kicked off Greek Week by displaying their letters at various places on campus only to have them burned, stolen and reararranged during the next night.
By early Tuesday morning, around 12:30, a small group of vandals burned and stole various organization’s work.
The most viciously attacked was Sigma Alpha Epsilon who had two of their letters set on fire. Also, Sigma Kappa sorority had a t-shirt stolen that hung from two trees, Phi Delta Theta had the Theta letter stolen and Delta Sigma Phi’s letters, written in forks in the mall, were rearranged.
“I’m really upset and I don’t know who these guys are but I hope we take them all the way. This is totally ridiculous and I think we’ve taken enough and it’s about time that something gets done,” said senior Jose Barba, president of SAE.
Housekeeping employee Judy Galvez found the letters “engulfed in flames” between 12:30 and 12:40 early Tuesday morning. She called Campus Safety Officer Alex Buligan for assistance and together they extinguished the fire.
“Technically,” said Buligan, “it was arson because there was a flame.”
Galvez said she saw two white males running away from the area, and while she and Buligan were putting out the fire, she alleges that she saw what could have been one of the males running from the scene grab the Sigma Kappa t-shirt.
“The people who are the usual or the likely suspects are people who are not Greeks,” said junior Simon Bouie, Phi Delta Theta warden.
Barba said that this occurrence has caused himself and his fraternity brothers to be afraid of being targets.
“We can be victims really easily. Yesterday [Monday], a car passed by yelling profanities and cussing people out. Easily someone can drive by and do something else,” Barba said. “They burned our letters down, why wouldn’t they do something else?”
Phi Delta Theta’s Aaron Carlin, junior, said, “The same people who vandalized the letters were definitely the same people who went by SAE [house].”
Carlin said he was called by someone he would not name who told him that “someone was going to torch our letters.”
“We saw the security guard and he said he saw three guys wearing black clothes,” he said.
“I went to James’ [Klimkoski, a freshman] room at 5 a.m. and confronted him and he admitted it,” he said.
Klimkoski denies he was responsible and acknowledged that Carlin did confront him about the incident. Klimkoski said that he is “being blamed, because there is no one else to blame. I’ve had some problems with Aaron before. I thought about doing it, but it wasn’t us.”
Klimkoski said that if he was to commit the act, “it wasn’t just against them (SAE) in general. We were going to knock them over, not do great damage, like lighting them on fire. We were just going to stir some stuff up.”
“We were just going to remove them and put them somewhere else. We weren’t going to light them on fire; that was a joke,” said Shawn Douglass, a sophomore.
Gil Gomez, senior and president of Phi Delta Theta, said, “there is enough evidence to bring them to review board.”
John Lentz, director of campus safety and transportation said, “these individuals were seen on campus,” near the time of the incident, but added, “that was not unusual, considering the week it was.”
Although Melissa Jaunal, coordinator of student programs, would not confirm any suspects, she said that “information has come to light” but would not divulge the information for fear of a “witch hunt.”
“I would like the judicial process of the University to handle this,” said Jaunal. “To my knowledge, the names I have received are students,” she said.
Dr. Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs, would not confirm the names either, but said, “We don’t have concrete evidence that said, ‘yes, they did it,’ but all the information is under review.”
“To be honest, I don’t know what the University policy is if a student commits a crime on campus, if it is our policy to report it to the police,” said Jaunal.
Lentz has turned over the information to the police.
“This was not just a practical joke,” said Jaunal. “This was fire and the trees could have burned, the building could have gone, anything could have happened.”