To chalk or not to chalk?

Jessica Lentine

On-campus chalking can result in violations

Credit: Beth Rankin

As you walk through campus during the school year, you are as likely to see sidewalks covered with chalk as you are to see students carrying books.

So why was sophomore exploratory major Robert Wyatt’s 2-year-old daughter told that she was not allowed to color with chalk outside of their Allerton apartment?

An Allerton employee told Wyatt’s wife that her daughter couldn’t use chalk on the sidewalk because it was considered graffiti.

“How can a 2-year-old be accused of graffiti?” Wyatt said.“It’s not like she was writing something political or a derogatory statement. She was making hearts and flowers that will wash away.”

Since chalking is a common activity for children and has also become a popular form of on-campus advertising, it is important that everyone — students, faculty and employees — be aware of the university’s chalking rules.

“Chalk can be used on exposed, horizontal surfaces, so it can be washed away,” said Brenda McKenzie, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement. “You can’t chalk under overhangs or on the sides of buildings.”

Allerton’s handbook states that there should be “no writing on buildings with chalk,” but the handbook does not include any rules about chalking on sidewalks.

McKenzie said that the rules about chalking apply to all places on-campus, and Allerton is not excluded.

Fortunately, Wyatt’s daughter will be able to play with chalk again.

“It’s summertime, kids want to go out and play,” Wyatt said. “I don’t see it hurting anyone.”

Beth Rankin, junior journalism major and Stater Web editor, agreed with Wyatt.

“Calling chalk ‘graffiti’ is a little bit excessive,” she said. “Even if you chalk something under an awning or on a wall, it’s gonna come off. If you want it off that bad, just spray it with a hose.”

Rankin received a complaint from a Student Center employee last semester after a chalk advertisement for FLTR magazine, which she co-edits, was made under the awning of the Student Center’s main plaza.

Although neither she nor the rest of her FLTR staff members responded to the chalk violation, Rankin said she saw nothing wrong with using sidewalk chalk as a means of promoting an organization.

“How many campus groups … use chalking as a form of getting the word out?” Rankin said. “It’s a cheap way to advertise things.”

Contact general assignment reporter at Jessica Lentine at [email protected].