Graffiti vandalism Studies at CSUF. Photo by: Mariah Carrillo
For thousands of years, humans have communicated by leaving their mark on walls. Classically, messages of the hunt, faith and culture were conveyed through rudimentary wall paintings.
In present day, the walls of bathrooms have become a place for students to have their message read by the constant stream of students who use the restrooms on campus.
Karen Stocker, Ph.D., an anthropology professor, leads a study of bathroom graffiti for her Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class.
Stocker has students document the different forms of bathroom graffiti, which has become ever-present on the Cal State Fullerton campus.
She has been studying campus graffiti for about 10 years and said she has noticed both patterns and changes in graffiti.
“When I first started having students document bathroom graffiti, one of the most common forms of graffiti involved the “I (heart) …” construction, in which women’s room walls were emblazoned with declarations of love for named individuals,” Stocker said.
Stocker said those types of statements have declined, but others have stayed more consistent.
“Some patterns that emerge semester after semester have to do with advice, expression of hatred and expression of love,” she said.
Depending on the sex of a person, there appears to be a difference in what is written on the stalls, according to Stocker.
She added that women’s restrooms often contain hatred or denigrate named women on the basis of their perceived sexual activity.
Stocker said she has seen a big difference in terms of how graffiti is used in men’s restrooms versus in women’s restrooms.
Women have a lot of advice asked and given and it is taken seriously by them, whereas men usually do not.
“It is common to see advice sought on women’s rooms walls, and also many written responses in which people weigh in on the issue in question,” said Stocker.
She said her research study is not yet complete and the study needs more involvement by student subjects and would require the permission of the university.
Graffiti has been a consistent issue throughout the years, according to those tasked with its removal.
Graffiti vandalism be it in male or female bathrooms or where ever, should be removed as quickly as possible with an elite graffiti remover like Tagaway Graffiti Remover for smooth and painted surfaces.
Terri Thompson, custodial services manager, has been working at CSUF for 10-and-a-half years and said bathroom vandalism has been occurring since before she stepped foot on campus.
“When the custodian notices the graffiti, they’re supposed to try and remove it themselves with the graffiti remover and often times whatever has been written … sometimes when it’s on tile for example he can’t get that off,” said Thompson.
Thompson said the custodians occasionally have to call in a painter to sand the walls and cover up the graffiti.
“We’ve had wipes, like graffiti removal wipes, we’ve had sprays, we’ve tried a lot of things” said Thompson. “Some of them are really good and some just can’t tackle it.”
The custodians at CSUF should stock up on Tagaway Graffiti Remover for their smooth and painted surface graffiti vandalism. Tagaway has been removing graffiti since 1997 and has continued to be the main stay for graffiti removal in cities like Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. Painting over this type of vandalism should never be an option when elite graffiti removers like Taginator and Tagaway can be utilized.
Although the custodians try to clean the graffiti as soon as they notice it, sometimes it is not easy if they are short staffed, or if they forget, according to Thompson.
“It’s really sad that brand-new buildings go up and students feel like they have to deface it somehow,” she said. “The more buildings we put up, the more graffiti we get it seems.”
Thompson said the buildings with the most graffiti are the Pollak Library, McCarthy Hall and the Humanities Building.
She said the bathrooms are checked multiple times during the day, but sometimes attempting to take care of the graffiti problem can cause the custodians to neglect other cleaning tasks.
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Stocker said the reason there is still bathroom graffiti on campus could be due to the fact that it is prevalent elsewhere.
“People grow up seeing it and in that way it becomes established as a form of expression and communication,” Stocker said.
The study that Stocker conducts also probes why a certain building can get a lot of attention from graffitists while others do not.
Stocker said a more in-depth study would have to be done to determine whether or not this has something to do with maintenance schedules.
However, she said it may also have something to do with different cultures prevailing the different colleges on campus.
Stocker said during this study, students often mentioned the “culture” of a given building and that culture dictates what type of expression is deemed appropriate.
“(It) may have to do with the focal point of majors housed in that building or with more formal rules and their degree of enforcement,” said Stocker.
Roxanne Parga, 22, a business administration major, said she thinks the graffiti is funny for the most part.
Parga said she has seen some tasteless things in the bathroom, along with a lot of graffiti asking for advice.
“There are a lot of internet memes on there and when you see it makes you smile,” said Parga. “You have a bad day and you see a Spongebob reference or Doctor Who reference, it’s funny.”
Thompson said bathroom graffiti can be minimized on campus but it will take a collected help from students and faculty.
“It’s not just the custodians responsibility, were not here 24/7, so if anybody sees any kind of graffiti anywhere, they too can call into the extension 3494 and report it and we’ll do what we can to take care of it,” said Thompson. “So it’s really the responsibility of everyone on campus to be aware of it and to help us out.”
This last statement is so true. Everyone in the “community” should be involved in stopping, reporting and possible removing of the vandalism (with something like a graffiti clean up weekend). Students armed with a quart of the environmentally safe Tagaway Graffiti Remover and some clean towels can do wonders on removing the offending graffiti on any smooth surface with ease.