Something of value is missing from the Castleton community. No, it isn’t a portrait of John C. Huden. It isn’t another snake. It isn’t President Wolk.
The Sparty costume, purchased by the Student Government Association in the fall of 2014 and valued at around $1,700, was last seen after homecoming weekend, according to Director of Public Safety Keith Molinari.
“We know that it went out to the athletics department for the game and was returned to the student government office that Monday,” Molinari said. Although it may have been used after homecoming, the sign-out process wasn’t properly utilized so there is no evidence beyond Sept. 28.
According to Meghan Hakey, graduate assistant program advisor for Student Life, the process to sign Sparty out involves reading a contract with information like how to take care of the costume, how to wear it what is expected of those being the Castleton mascot. The individual signing out the costume would need to fill out a form including the dates they need it, what it will be used for and what condition the costume is in at the time of sign-out and time of return.
“I like to keep a paper-trail, so we use the contract,” Hakey said.
SGA President Mariah O’Hara said the closet Sparty was stored in was being re-shelved, so the costume was being kept in a duffle bag in the SGA office under a desk. It was supposed to be kept in the WIUV room, but there wasn’t enough space with all the other things from the closet being stored in the same place.
Only a handful of people knew what the bag containing the costume looked like and fewer knew where it was being kept. Individuals who have previously used or had access to the costume have been questioned, but there are no leads or information at this time, Molinari said.
Hakey said the office is opened when the building is unlocked in the morning and is locked either when she leaves at night or when the building manager closes the Campus Center, making the office a fairly public space.
Because the costume hadn’t been used, no one even noticed it was missing until Oct. 26.
Most students are still unaware that Sparty is MIA, but confused when they find out.
“I just really want to know who the f—k took it,” said sophomore Lindsey Reno. “It’s a mysterious mystery.”
“It’s kind of like the snake thing all over again,” said sophomore Alex Derosia of the boa that went missing from the science department in February.
Members of SGA are equally confused.
“I just don’t understand why someone would steal him,” said SGA Treasurer Tyler Anderson. “All someone has to do is sign him out.”
Although this can be seen as a humorous prank, Molinari wants people to know this is no laughing matter.
“It’s a shame that it was stolen,” Molinari said. “I don’t find it very funny and I’m fearful Sparty could show up wherever.”
In cases at other universities, mascots have been stolen and then used to disrespect or mock the school.
“Sparty is a huge representation of Castleton and the students of Castleton, because when you put on the costume you represent the whole school,” O’Hara said.
Castleton police have been notified, and if Sparty is found, the individual or individuals responsible would go through the college judicial system as well as face criminal penalties.
“If Sparty is discovered, that ranges in a felony range and we’d be looking at criminal charges,” Molinari said. “If Sparty were to appear at Public Safety without damage, few questions would be asked: if it was voluntarily returned. It would be great if Sparty could just appear.”
The old mascot costume was given to athletics and if the new Sparty doesn’t turn up, SGA will have to decide if they want to purchase another new costume.
In an email, Matthew Patry, director of student activities and an alum himself, expressed how upset he is over the theft.
“It was an expensive investment that SGA undertook to show their pride in our institution. It’s really disappointing to think that someone would take our beloved Sparty,” Patry said. “What could they possibly gain by taking it? They can’t wear in public and they can’t sell it, so what is the point?”
“Whoever took Sparty has in essence stolen from each and every student, faculty and staff member,” Patry said.