Mystery of Stephens’ missing bras solved

Banner for Breast Cancer Awareness Month retrieved.
Thursday, October 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The case of the missing bras has been solved. Here’s what happened:

On Monday morning, Stephens College students and faculty strung up a banner adorned with 40 decorated bras at College Avenue and Broadway.

They planned to leave it on display for the rest of the month, to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Stephens College has been decorating bras donated by students, faculty and staff for several years to raise breast cancer awareness. This year, the college decided that, in addition to displaying bras inside Stamper Commons for the month, they would put some outside as well.

But shortly before 1 p.m., someone — described by campus security as “a government official-looking person” — took them down and made off with them.

Stephens security guard Shaun McDonough first called the city’s traffic division.

“We assumed that whoever took it down was someone who worked for the city because he was wearing an orange vest with yellow reflective tape, which is something most city workers wear,” McDonough said.

But Jim McKinnon, street superintendent in the public works department, which includes the traffic division, said he does not think anyone in his department was involved.

“The description given by the college made no mention of any sort of city vehicle being around, and people in my division need a vehicle to do their jobs,” he said.

On Monday, Deborah Duren, vice president for student services at Stephens, agreed — but for a different reason.

“We’ve been dealing with city officials and the police for a long time, and I find it hard to believe that they would completely take something of ours without calling or at least telling us,” she said.

She said that when students have hung signs and banners on the street or over the bridges that cross College and Broadway, the city called and allowed campus security to handle it.

“I think people here are convinced that it was a prank by some Mizzou man that was dared by his buddies,” Duren said. “Now he has a souvenir … that he can brag about for years to come,” she said.

Duren said she thought that the vest was probably worn as a decoy.

But it turns out the orange vest was no red herring. Duren said she learned Tuesday that the remover of the brassiere-bedecked banner worked for the Department of Transportation.

“What I was told was that one of the ropes was tied to a lightpost, and you can’t tie anything to a lightpost. They cut it down,” Duren said. “I guess they thought it was a prank.”

Duren said a secretary from the Health Services office at Stephens, which oversees activities for breast cancer awareness, later retrieved the 15-foot banner.

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