When walls start talking

Courtney Cook

A message written on the wall of the second floor bathroom in Bowman Hall. DAVID ALAN FOSTER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Everyone likes having something to read in the bathroom.

(Even if it is R.J. “hearts” C.M.)

The bathroom walls and doors of the stalls at Kent State have provided a blank (not to mention private) canvas for students to reveal their innermost thoughts. The walls are also being used as a sort of forum where students are discussing whatever “moves” them during that moment of solitude.

Tommy Krecic, senior integrated health sciences major, said the men’s bathrooms on campus are sprinkled with vulgarity.

“You get a lot of ‘so-and-so was here,’ too,” Krecic said. “And there’s a lot of fraternities dissing other frats.”

Kent State bathroom graffiti does, however, go beyond the usual “for a good time call this number” remarks. The walls are plastered with individuals’ thoughts ranging from the war in Iraq to the meaning of love, religion and even thoughts on the May 4 shootings.

“I find it very funny to debate such things here, it is a bathroom wall you know.” Found written in the Music and Speech Center.

Amidst the scribbles, scrubbing and blacked-out print on the inside of the wooden bathroom stall in the Music and Speech Center, students anonymously debate world issues.

In bold, black marker, one student writes, “Everyone is so concerned with what is going on in Iraq, but no one seems to care that in the past 2 years 200,000+ people have died from disease and genocide in the Sudan. I guess it just doesn’t matter to our government because they don’t have oil.”

Underneath the message, another student responded, “When our best intelligence indicates they are becoming a threat to our safety, we will go in.”

One last rebuttal puts a personal twist on the debate, disregarding the initial conflict of ideas, “You can’t even spell ‘intelligence’ correctly.”

The writings on the wall

These phrases can also be found on the walls and doors of the stalls in the campus bathrooms:

• “Twinkies! Oh my god I love them!”

• “Greek! Sisters for life … or at least until after college lol”

• “Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain”

• “I’m still with my ex-girlfriend”

• “Love yourself. You’re beautiful if you think you are”

-“not if you’re real ugly”

• “Whoa, there, kiddies, is that how the founder of this door intended you to behave?”

• “I love you! No, really, you, on the toilet”

• “Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time”

“Coexist, compassion, tolerance.” Found written in Bowman Hall.

Students have also used the stall walls as a free space to suggest religious beliefs, as well as doubts.

In small, hardly legible black ink that appears to have been scrubbed many times in Bowman Hall, an anonymous person wrote, “God is dead.”

Another anonymous writer replies with an indicative arrow, “God isn’t dead, but maybe your faith is.”

A response in yet another handwriting joins the discussion and contributes, “To say something is dead implies that it was once alive.”

The argument stops here, and a fourth party writes boldly under the conversation, “Love more and hate less, love makes the world spin.”

“Express your views.”

“Probably far more effective than vandalizing college property,”

Even though many of the examples of free speech splattered on the walls of the stalls have been scribbled out, rubbed off or painted over, one argument has been visible for years – possibly because it creates dialogue regarding an important historical event.

On the top left corner of the middle stall on the first floor of the Music and Speech Building, it is anonymously written, “Never forget May 4, 1970, when the government slaughtered 4 innocent students.”

Directly next to the memorial phrase, another student expresses his or her views on the shootings, “What would you do if you had rocks being thrown at you and you had a gun?”

Another arrow points at the first anonymous message and next to it is written, “Not the government. Just people.”

“The words won’t go away.”

John Walsh, manager of Campus Environment and Operations, said the graffiti on campus is actually a big problem.

“There’s a big-time effort,” Walsh said. “Depending how it was written, and with what it was written, it still shows. Sometimes painting is involved. It’s a big-time problem that takes a lot of our time.”

Walsh said he has 89 full-time employees and that all the bathrooms are cleaned 100 percent every day.

“If we see it (graffiti), we clean it up,” he said. “There is at least one employee daily that reports it somewhere.”

Walsh said if the custodial staff can get it off with the special product they use, then it’s great. Often, he said, there is still evidence of what was written and that is when paint is used.

What is considered to be vandalism and graffiti on the walls of the stalls around the buildings at Kent State has created more than entertaining reading material. The open and anonymous forum has become an outlet for students and whoever else to release innermost thoughts and feelings without worry of being held accountable for his or her scripture.

An anonymous author in Bowman writes, “Here’s an idea! Write your views someplace that actually matters.”

In retrospect, where else could one be guaranteed such steady readership?

Contact features reporter Courtney Cook at [email protected].