A new “In God We Trust” sign was vandalized in an Irby Hall classroom Feb. 2, nearly a month after being hung.
German professor Horst Lange was making his way to his classroom, room 204, Sunday at 6 p.m. and when he arrived, he noticed the framed sign lying in the middle of the room, broken into pieces.
“An idiot vandalized it,” Lange said. “It was thrown into the middle of the room. Somebody ripped it off and you could see four or five pieces belonging to it in the middle of the room.”
He said the sign could not have been easily removed due to the hardware used to mount it on the wall, ruling out the possibility that it could have fallen on its own. Lange said he was in the room until 3 p.m. Friday, and the sign remained on the wall. He said on Sundays, the janitor is usually there “starting at 12:30 p.m. or so and then [the room is] locked, so somebody must have gotten in between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m.”
Lange also said the same sign in the classroom next to his was also removed from the wall.
“I noticed in room 205, the thing is not attached to the wall either. Somebody must have ripped it off there too,” Lange said. “I got mad when I saw the vandalism because we just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and if Martin Luther King Jr. taught us anything, it’s that the most ethical form of protest is nonviolent and nonviolent protest is the most efficient form of protest.”
Prior to noticing the vandalized sign in his classroom, at 5 p.m., Lange was creating signs of his own to hang in his classroom. One sign, with an arrow pointing to the “In God We Trust” sign, reads “If you think that this sign excludes (among others) Hindus and Buddhists, please sign here,” with an open space for students to place their signature. The other sign he created is similar, reading “‘Being gay is like glitter. It never comes off.’ - Lady Gaga. If you think that the university was wrong in forcing the library to take down this sign, please sign here.”
Once he returned to his room to put up the new signs and noticed the vandalized one, he created one more, which reads “Do not VANDALIZE! Violence is never the answer.”
“I think this is a violation of the spirit of the First Amendment,” Lange said, explaining the reason behind making the signs.
He then explained his perspective as a teacher.
“How well do you learn in a classroom in which you do not feel welcome? You have to feel welcome in the classroom. So if somebody is not a traditional monotheist, they will not feel welcome in this classroom. And if somebody is LGBTQ and the president forces down signs, which offer a humorous and non-aggressive support of an LGBTQ identity, you don’t feel welcome either. So what I want is to detoxify my classroom and make students feel welcome so that they can learn. And if there are many signatures on the wall, then they can at least see that many of their fellow students think they are welcome,” Lange said.
Lange accumulated several signatures within the first few days of placing the signs in his room and hopes to see more.
“I’m encouraged that there are already that many signatures. I am pretty sure there will be more. And that will send a really good signal to my students,” Lange said.
Lange said his plan for the signs is to leave them up “forever and ever.”