bieber graphic

In the window of Riddick Hall stands the famed Justin Bieber cutout, watching students on their way to class while displaying fun and witty messages on his whiteboard. For a brief period, the campus icon went missing, but he’s now back and is as creepy, funny and mysterious as ever.

Originally making his appearance during the 2018-19 school year, Bieber has weaved his way into campus lore over the past few years through word-of-mouth and social media conversations. However, the person(s) responsible for the cutout did not foresee it gaining so much attention.

According to the OB — the Original Bieber handler — it all began as an office joke among physics graduate students before Bieber was introduced to the outside world. 

“For a few months he sat beside my desk facing into the office, but enough people got sufficiently creeped out that we decided to turn it around and not make it our problem,” the OB said. “And so we turned him around outside the window, and that was that.”

Initially, Bieber continued on his creepy streak.

“For a while, I thought we were going to have to take it down because some people were really complaining about being creeped out by him,” the OB said. “I guess those kind of tapered off as he became more and more of a known thing.”

Within a few months of his first appearance, students began talking about him and making posts on the NC State subreddit. Initially unnerving, Bieber managed to find his way into the hearts of many here at NC State.

“I turned the corner to go up the steps and I’m just like ‘woah!’” said Grace Salo, a third-year studying statistics. “The first time I saw [it], I was not appreciative, but then it kind of just grew on me, you know? Especially if I’m going to a class that I don’t like, I’m like ‘At least Bieber’s in it with me.’”

Unfortunately, there are some who do not “belieb.” Throughout his existence, the cutout has been plagued by a series of burglaries in which the cutout has been taken, only to reappear as mysteriously as he left. 

This began in the spring semester of 2020, before the impact of COVID-19.

“All of a sudden, one day he was gone, and we were all freaking out, and the campus freaked out too,” said the most recent Bieber handler, who has dubbed themselves as “the Belieber.” “We posted that Bieber was stolen, and within hours, someone started a GoFundMe to replace [him].”

Fortunately, he was found soon after, hidden in the same room, only to be taken again within a couple days. This time, after two weeks of searching, he was found behind a couch in another room.

“After that, he was stolen a third time,” the Belieber said. “We searched the entire building but could not find him.”

It was this third time when the cutout’s absence was truly felt. With the onset of a global pandemic, students were sent home. Not even Bieber remained on campus.

Leading up to this, Bieber began communicating via a whiteboard, displaying funny messages to students passing by. While Bieber was stolen, the whiteboard survived.

“I don’t know actually who pulled this off, but someone ended up putting a ‘stop the spread,’ just like some COVID information on the board,” the Belieber said. “It was left that way for a couple months.”

Taking inspiration from that, in early 2021, the Belieber crafted a message of their own, writing “Thank you for Beleibing in me! Once NC State reaches 70% vaccination, Bieber will be back!” 

According to the Belieber, the message was written hoping once that milestone had been reached, they would have the old Bieber back, or a new one to display in the window.

“I thought it'd be a little fun challenge to get people at least talking about it again,” the Belieber said. “I wasn't trying to get too, you know, social justice-y with the board. … Part of it was just fun, part of it was like a challenge for the campus.”

Since then, NC State has exceeded that marker, with vaccination rates currently just above 80%. When the campus hit 70% in September of this year, the Bieber craze was on, and various students pitched in to help bring Bieber back.

“Some student came in here and left a note… and left their phone number and said ‘If you need a Bieber cutout, let me know,’” the Belieber said. “I think maybe the same day someone else came in and just dropped a Bieber cutout off.”

The Belieber and others behind the Bieber cutout are grateful for the support from the community. 

“Even if you take our Bieber, you can’t take the Bieber spirit,” the Belieber said. “Someone in the Pack community brought a Bieber to us. … The Pack has our back.”

Perhaps even the Bieber thief has been changed by the Bieber spirit. There are discrepancies as to which one is currently in the window, but the original cutout has, in fact, been returned.

“Recently — I don’t know when — the person who took [Bieber] emailed the head of the physics department and felt guilty about it and returned it,” the OB said. “Nobody will tell me who it was, which is probably for the best, because I’d just look them dead in the eye and ask them ‘Are you happy? Do you want to talk?’”

When asked if they had any last remarks, The OB expressed feelings of forgiveness toward the Bieb-napper.

“Can you tell the person who stole him that I forgive them?” said the OB.

With the cutout back in the window, the Belieber has expressed there is plenty of Bieber content to come. Next time you find yourself walking between Riddick and Mann Halls, embrace the uneasy feeling of Bieber’s beady little eyes watching you, and let that Bieber spirit carry you forth.