Nov 292011
Authors: Sarah Fenton

After putting special effort into renovating the Clark Building bathrooms, Ann Gill, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said she was livid after a vandalism issue that arose in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving break.

According to Gill, someone used a permanent marker to scrawl a well-known Gandhi quote across the wall of a women’s restroom, which read, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

“I immediately tried to wipe it off,” Gill said in an email to the Collegian. “After all the effort and expense of trying to create nice restrooms, I was stunned someone had, in a few minutes, ruined it.”

According to Jeff Sutton, who heads CSU’s custodial services, requests for vandalism clean-up like this are not uncommon.

Although graffiti occurs most often in buildings like the Visual Arts Building, other locations get hit as well, Sutton said. In the last few days, there was a big request to deal with graffiti in the Morgan Library.

“We try to keep up with it as best we can,” Sutton said. “It’s not necessarily vulgar; sometimes it’s just people drawing on the walls.”

Although Gill considered the Clark vandalism depressing, she set out to fix it rather than dwell on it.

“I am a great believer in freedom of speech,” Gill said. “I decided the best way to deal with the issue was to exercise my own First Amendment rights, but in a way that did not harm others or community property.”

“I very much wanted to make a point, and I needed some outlet for my anger and frustration,” she added.

Gill eventually formulated a written response, taped it to the wall near the graffiti in a way that would leave an impression without making a physical mark.

The statement in full read:

“How sad and ironic is this defacing of CSU property by one self-centered individual. One change I wanted was nicer facilities for CSU students who have classes in C-wing Clark, so I paid to have these bathrooms upgraded this summer, money that was very hard to find in these tight budget times. And it is now vandalized. If you want to make a difference in the world, exercise your free speech rights on the Plaza, hand out flyers, but do not destroy community property.
-From the disheartened Dean of Liberal Arts”

Despite the fact that the message on the wall carried an uplifting ring, for Gill the message, no matter how nice, didn’t matter.

“While sappy and a bit unspecific, the message (the vandal) wrote is basically a positive one,” Gill said. “I find it absolutely ironic that, in writing that message, (the vandal) chose a method of expression that resulted in something so negative.”

While vandalism is often seen on buildings across campus, some individuals, like freshman journalism major KaylaRae Griffeth, are forced to deal with damage to their own personal belongings.

According to Griffeth, after parking her car near Allison Hall a few weeks ago, she found that someone had used a blue sharpie to deface her vehicle, encasing it in what she said appeared to be a giant mouth.

After getting in touch with the CSU Police Department, Griffeth said they told her they couldn’t help with her car, even though this pattern of car graffiti has happened to other girls in her sorority.

For Gill, the issue remains relevant for all CSU students.

“I hope the person who vandalized the restroom saw it and was forced to think about her actions,” Gill said. “I also wanted everyone who saw her message and my sign to think about the notion of a community and about how the action of every individual affects more than themselves.”

Collegian writer Sarah Fenton can be reached at

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