Campus Restroom Graffiti Deserves a Fresh Report (@TheSeahawk #graffiti)

Only GOD can judge me!  I eat yogurt.  Where words fail, music speaks.  Sidewalks are just suggestions.  You never realize how shallow your life was until you become a mother.  Please let us express ourselves.

In the photo, the bathroom stall is littered with these random statements, and many more.  Altogether, they equal a funny, quirky, and one-of-a-kind glimpse into the minds and moods of students and staff at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

As James Edmonds, a staff writer for The Seahawk student newspaper, argues in a recent op-ed, “The bathroom stalls contain some of the more honest writings of the students on this campus. We do a ton of writing to get through our courses, but all of it is written for someone else with the knowledge that it will be judged. There is no fear of judgment when writing on a bathroom stall because no one will know you wrote it.”

On the door of the single stall featured in the photo accompanying Edmonds’s write-up, there are comments on various aspects of religion, politics, the economy, and original thought.  For example, addressing the gay marriage debate, there is a drawing of three stick-figure couples holding hands– a man and a woman, two men, and two women.  Above it, a three-word summation has been scrawled: “Love is love.”  Of course, nearby, there is simply the word poop.  It’s a mixed bag.

Bottom line: It’s time for a stall stakeout or a more general graffiti report.

Questions for a Related Report

What is written as graffiti on various parts of campus?  Are there any trends, common sayings, styles of writing or general themes that emerge?  What are the most offbeat words, sayings, acronyms, and drawings?  What are the funniest or most interesting running conversations?  What are the most popular campus spots to sport graffiti?  What is the school’s response to the mark-ups?  Any opinions or memories of funny graffiti from those tasked with cleaning them up?  What are students’ responses to the scrawls?  In respect to Edmonds’s opinion, do students feel any particular statements speak for the student body or address current concerns?  Are any students known for their campus graffiti work?  Do art or design classes incorporate graffiti styles or perspectives in any way into their lessons or exercises?  Through a check of your student paper archives, have there been any especially famous or controversial graffiti incidents on campus (a defaced iconic statue perhaps or a protest mark-up of a presidential portrait)?

Multimedia Options

1) Put together a photo slideshow of the standout or most repeated graffiti on campus.  2) Produce an interactive standalone site that features graffiti notes touching on major campus issues, with rollover or pop-up captions objectively explaining the issues being addressed, with links to related coverage for those wanting to learn more.  3) Create a humorous set of memes featuring images of popular campus spots.  Overlay each meme image with bits of “digital graffiti,” culling words and phrases from lighthearted student suggestions.  The conceit: What should be scrawled on certain buildings and statues?

Offbeat Option

With school officials’ approval, create a temporary free speech wall, enabling students to write whatever they want.  Grab video or photos of students scrawling on it or strolling by it.  Assess the themes or debates that emerge.  Gauge student reactions to the wall’s messages and general existence.

2 Responses to “Campus Restroom Graffiti Deserves a Fresh Report (@TheSeahawk #graffiti)”
  1. Perhaps the temporary free speech wall should ban photos or videos of students while they are scribbling which may inhibit what they really want to write.

    btw, I linked to your article from mine: Should Grammar School Students Be Arrested for Bathroom Graffiti?

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