Vandalism Poster Sparks Mixed Feelings

Several Puget Sound organizations have recently made an anti-vandalism poster targeted towards stopping hurtful and disrespectful messages on campus. The poster depicts a student writing on a desk covered in pejorative words and symbols, some of which could be considered explicit.

“Starting last year, we spent some time trying to address concerns that had been brought to our attention, specifically from our facilities crew, of the markings on the desks in Wyatt Hall,” Director of Multicultural Student Services Czarina Ramsay said.

One of the poster’s slogans, “Break the Cycle. Don’t be Spiteful.” emphasizes the repetitive nature of how these messages are spread, and one way to prevent it. A large portion of the posters are in Wyatt, where the malleable wooden desks make defacing the surface easier than in other buildings.

Repairing a single desk takes hours of work, and multiple desks needing repairs each semester results in a large amount of money drained from school resources. Students who have been biased against in the past can see these messages daily, and feel the judgment of their anonymous peers until the desks have been taken away.

[The first poster] ideas wanted to focus more on the monetary impact that this problem causes for campus,” ASUPS Director of Marketing and Outreach Kathryn Ginsberg said. “Talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while impressive, is almost so large, that the average student can’t conceptually comprehend it.

We tried to approach it from an angle that would have the largest impact on students – so we tried to realistically present in a manner that we knew was impacting students and that they could relate to, which is exactly how it occurs – on the desks and impacting you while you’re sitting there for a class period or more.

The goal was to show something inappropriate that we see every day, but take it a step further to get people thinking about how disrespectful those things can be, as well as an incentive to think before they deface the desks again,” graphic designer Michael Villasenor said.

Chief Diversity Officer Michael Benitez, Jr. presented a statement to campus this past September explaining the decision to create these posters and their possible impact on the community.

“The markings varied from people etching area codes…to hurtful statements, or terms that perpetuated stereotypes about particular groups,” Ramsay said, “or marginalized people in a way intended to be offensive or harmful.” All of the images on the poster have appeared in some location around campus.