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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 15, 2004

NOTE: The latest information for students, faculty and staff impacted by the temporary closure of Seashore Hall and Spence Laboratories -- including new class locations -- may be found at http://news.uiowa.edu/seashore

Seashore Hall And Spence Labs Closed For Foreseeable Future After Vandalism

Seashore Hall and Spence Laboratories at the University of Iowa will be closed for the foreseeable future, following the discovery Sunday morning of extensive vandalism in research laboratories and faculty and graduate student offices.

No classes will be held in the building until at least after Thanksgiving break, and faculty and staff will not be allowed in the building, except under limited circumstances, until a preliminary criminal investigation is completed and until hazardous materials dumped during the vandalism can be contained and removed. Classes will be rescheduled in alternate locations.

A website will be established later this afternoon, and faculty, staff and students should check the website regularly for updates regarding any public information concerning the incident and use of the building.

There were no reports of injuries to faculty, staff or students in connection with the incident.

Preliminary investigation indicated that most of the damage was in Spence Labs and in the east wing of Seashore Hall, both of which are home to the UI Department of Psychology. Because of uncertainty about the extent of the damage, including the deliberate dumping of chemicals, UI Police decided Sunday afternoon to evacuate Spence Labs and all of Seashore Hall, which also houses the UI School of Journalism, the Department of Sociology, and UI offices such as the Audiovisual Center, Internal Audit and the Ombudspersons office.

The UI Police Department was called to the scene at 8:38 a.m. Sunday in response to a reported break-in. UI police called the Iowa City Fire Department at 9:49 a.m. after discovering a chemical spill. Fire Department officials then summoned the Johnson County Hazardous Materials Response Team.

The vandalism included laboratories where research animals were housed. An undetermined number of mice and rats were missing.  In addition, more than 30 computers were damaged. As of Sunday afternoon, University officials were still assessing the damages, but they said they expected the monetary value to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition to the Iowa City Fire Department and the Johnson County HazMat team, the Iowa City Police Department, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several other UI offices were assisting UI Police.

"Because the investigation is still under way, we are not releasing any additional details, and we have asked the faculty, staff and students whom we interviewed not to disclose any details as well," said Duane Papke, associate directorof the UI Police. "We encourage anyone with information about this incident to call our office at 319-335-5022. Callers need not identify themselves."

STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1316.

CONTACT(S): Steve Parrott, steven-parrott@uiowa.edu. Writer: Steve Parrott.