The writing on the wall: Vandalism on the rise in election year

U students entering Orson Spencer Hall last week were greeted with an unsigned letter. Graffiti reading “Criticize Capitalism” was spray-painted on the outer brick wall.

Graffiti on campus has been most recently sighted in and around Marriott Library and OSH.

“With the start of the political season, there has been a major increase in graffiti,” said Gene LeBlanc, manager of the campus paint shop. “Anti Bush, anti-Kerry, we have it all.”

U freshman Janice Fisher said, “I’ve seen profanity written in the Marriott Library and some anti-Bush graffiti, but I thought they were stupid. [Graffiti] shows that people are still so immature that they feel the need to write on the walls.”

U senior Wei Li has also noticed graffiti on campus, but had a different reaction to it than Fisher.

“It doesn’t take away from the beauty of the campus. Some graffiti makes the campus look more diverse,” Li said.

Graffiti on campus is removed as soon as a maintenance worker or police officer is made of aware of it.

“Since the maintenance crews are in the rest rooms everyday, we expect them to report [vandalism] immediately. If there is profanity or racial graffiti, we get it painted or removed immediately,” LeBlanc said. “We also go on periodic walks, looking for it.”

The use of profanity in graffiti doesn’t cause everyone to feel endangered.

“I have never felt threatened by the graffiti because I think that it is usually younger students and members of the community who are responsible for it,” Fisher said.

No matter the strength of the language used in graffiti, the power and time required to remove it is great.

“First, we coat the paint with a graffiti remover and let it soak. Then, it takes two men with 300-degree water shooting out of a hose at 3000 [pounds per square inch] to remove it completely,” LeBlanc said.

With all the trouble it takes to remove graffiti, the significance and motivation of the vandalism often comes into question.

“I don’t think it’s art. It’s just like when people go hiking and they have to write their name on a rock. They are marking their territory,” Fisher said.

Li disagreed.

“It is part of being in a free country,” Li said. “It is art. It’s a reflection of what individuals think. Just because they show it in a rebellious manner doesn’t make it less significant in that way.”

Graffiti is a discussion provoker, but its effect as a view-changer may be weaker.

“When I read ‘Bush sucks,’ I don’t even think about it,” Fisher said. “Maybe only, ‘Well, that’s stupid. I disagree.'”

As the political season continues to gear up, it is expected that instances of vandalism will increase on campus.

The U’s campus police were unavailable for comment, but graffiti is vandalism and a crime on the U campus.

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