'Silent Willie' vandalized


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Photo by The Daily Targum |

The statue of WIlliam the Silent stands in Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus. The statue has been the subject of vandalism over the years.


The University has more than a hundred years of rivalry with Princeton University in academics and athletics.

That rivalry may have continued on April 19, when the statue of William the Silent in Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus was the target of criminal mischief, according to Rutgers University Police Dept. Lt. John O'Neal.

At 3 a.m., RUPD officers observed five individuals - four males and one female, who was wearing a pink top and blue jeans - standing around the statue, also nicknamed "Silent Willie."

The individuals began walking away quickly. When officers shined a light on them, two ran in one direction, while the other three ran the opposite way. After a brief pursuit, officers lost sight of them, O'Neal said.

When officers returned to the statue, they saw orange paint on the ground, and discovered the statue had a large penis depicted on it, as well as the word "Princeton" several times, O'Neal said. University Facilities washed the paint off the statue soon after.

The incident was the latest in a long history between Rutgers and Princeton.

The schools are credited with playing the first intercollegiate football game, with Rutgers winning 6-4 on Nov. 6, 1869 in a field on the site of the present gym on College Avenue.

The game became the starting point for a purported rivalry, according to University archives, with each of the schools trying to top the other's pranks.

The pranks are often reported as "under the cover of night," as in this 1875 incident in "Rutgers Through the Years:"

"Under cover of darkness, nine men of the Class of 1877 set out to steal back the Revolutionary War-era cannon Princeton had purportedly stolen from Rutgers some years before."

The men kicked off a series of pranks, known as "The Cannon Wars."

The final "battle" came Sept. 1969, four undergraduates "stole" the cannon back from Princeton. The Rutgers students dug a hole, submerging the cannon and it remains buried in front of Old Queens.

Most of the more recently reported events do not include trying to steal the cannons, instead they are acts of vandalism to Princeton and Rutgers landmarks.

According to University archives, Princeton students have previously doused the William the Silent statue with orange paint in the 1970s.

The Daily Princetonian also reported an incident Oct. 14, 2003, when a Princeton official discovered the school's cannon, also buried for protection, had been painted red in the early morning hours.

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