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Mercer graffiti a window into the college’s soul?

in CAMPUS by

To view a society’s true feelings, look no further than the graffiti they leave behind. The ancient Romans are well known for what they etched onto their walls. Similarly revealing information can be found on the walls of Mercer’s bathrooms and smoking huts.

To start with, it’s worth noting that the spelling, grammar and punctuation in Mercer graffiti will affirm many people’s stereotypes about the lack of literacy among community college students. Beneath the misspellings, however, lies a world of personal revelation, philosophical thought and political debate.

Near toilets you get toilet humor, references to sex and genitals. “I fucked ur mom” and “Gays suck dicks, Lesbians sucks” are typical examples. A team of VOICE staffers –including both men and women– examined the bathrooms and compared notes. Turns out, there are fewer penis references and fewer racial slurs in the women’s bathrooms, but ultimately the differences are minor. For example, “Here I sit broken hearted,I came to shit but only farted” appears in both.

But for every penis and racial slur philosophical statements occur, such as “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” and “Humans will not be free until the last king has been strangled by the entails of the last priest.”

In between the scribblings of “WEEDLE 4 LIFE,” “Hi” and “Talyor Swift” there are debates that suggest Mercer students are more politically engaged than some might expect. In the men’s bathroom of the Communications building this conversation appears:

“Fuck Obama’s healthcare a privalage Its not a right”

“Why you tryin’ to kill Grandma?”

“I’m sorry? Good health isn’t a right”

The same politically minded bathroom featured the name “Obama” with a hammer and sickle inside the O, next to which someone has written “Ohm sup Glenn Beck. I didn’t know you went to MCCC.” That comment was followed by “Hipperbole, much?”

In the women’s bathroom in the Communications building, things are more philosophical. One person wrote “GOD IS LOVE”, to which another responded, “Dont shove your morals on my face.”

One category of graffiti can best be described as inscrutable, featuring slogans such as: “VAGAN!” It’s not clear if this is a celebration of egg and meat free eating, or a species of aliens featured in Star Trek.

The smoking huts of Mercer have received truly ornate adornment. The hut located near the east student parking lot features graffiti based on the drug counter-culture. The entire site is multi-colored and filled with lists of various drugs, pictures of mushrooms and penises intertwined with cryptic phrases such as “quack,” and “S.O.T. got da dankiest of dem all.”

As would be expected, graffiti is prohibited on campus. Article M2 of the Student Conduct code includes in the “Prohibited Activities” section: “Damage, destruction, or defacement of college property or property of a member of the College or visitor.”

Like a number of other Mercer policies that are virtually un-enforceable, the security logs show not a single instance of a student being busted for writing graffiti, but bathrooms are routinely repainted following outbreaks of hate graffiti such as the anti-Semitic drawings reported on by Tricia Bitetto in the article “Graffiti of Hate” that appeared in the March 9, 2009 issue of The VOICE.

In that same article, Director of Campus Safety Bryon Marshall is quoted as saying that in general incidents of bathroom graffiti are “done randomly” and are “not a major concern.”

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