Damage to Oreo proves costly

Jill Brower

The “Awakening” sculpture in the center of campus, more commonly known as the “Oreo,” has been a meeting spot and gathering place for students since it was donated in 1985. But over the years, the campus icon has also become somewhat of a bulletin board for student organizations to post signs advertising their latest fundraiser or event.

According to Rev. Richard Cannuli, O.S.A., director and curator of the University’s Art Gallery, this has to stop.

“Anytime anybody puts any kind of tape on the statue, the acid in the glue from the tape damages it,” Cannuli said. “If I could find another place to move it, I’d move it.”

In order to post advertisements around campus, student organizations must have each sign approved by the Office of Student Development. With this approval, students are given a copy of the posting policy, which states that posting is not permitted on the sculpture.

Director of Student Development Thomas Mogan said the reason organizations often fail to abide by this policy the lack of communication between group members. “What happens is one person picks up the posters and understands the policy, but then others distribute them around campus,” he said.

Most violations are handled informally. “I usually contact the organization’s adviser or members and warn them,” Mogan said. “The policy says student organizations can lose their posting privileges.”

However, Mogan said, “We’re willing to take stronger measures if the situation doesn’t improve. A fine is something we might consider.”

Cannuli feels organizations should be fined per piece of tape in order to pay the cost of cleaning the sculpture,. Each time the professional cleaner visits for a spot cleaning, he charges an initial fee of $400 for the first hour, which usually results in the removal of three or four pieces of tape. After that, he charges per piece of tape. The money for these fees comes from the art gallery’s budget.

A full cleaning of the sculpture, which is valued at $230,000, would cost between $45,000 and $65,000. The last full cleaning was 12 years ago, according to Cannuli.

“I can’t be out there 24 hours a day policing it,” Cannulli said. “I shouldn’t have to.”

Cannuli regularly removes any posters and tape from the “Awakening” by hand, but leaves the more difficult pieces for a professional cleaning due to its fragility. “It looks extremely strong, but it’s very fragile,” he said, noting the black pieces are carved from South African black granite and the white pieces are carved from Italian travertine marble.

Although Cannuli has noticed a small percentage of students who actually remove posters from the “Oreo,” he attributed the overall problem to students “not caring.”

While the sculpture remains a recognizable symbol, Cannuli feels that the damage reflects poorly upon the University. “I’m embarrassed when the Blue Key Society brings parents around,” he said. “It looks terrible and shows nobody has respect for it.”

Vice President of Student Life Rev. John Stack, O.S.A., hopes that no serious action will have to be taken against violators. “I’d like to see the problem be self-regulated,” he said. “Students should have a respect for the property and be aware that it’s a piece of art.”

He added, “Students have to correct fellow students and keep educating each other every year. There are people here with good grades, so they should be able to figure out that that’s not the right thing to do without somebody looking over them.”

Stack also noted that students have no problem treating other areas of campus with respect, such as the church, so they should act similarly regarding the sculpture.

“It’s not a bulletin board.”