Tears streaming down your face. Snot dripping from your nose. You run to the bathroom hoping no one sees you cry over your failed test. You slam the door to one of the bathroom stalls, sit on the toilet and cry until you can’t anymore. As you wipe your nose with your shirt sleeve, you look up at the bathroom door and see a quote. You say it in your head. “Your GPA doesn’t define you.”
For many students on campus, the bathroom stalls in Stubbs and Walker Hall have been their comfort or joy while at school. In Stubbs, the girls’ bathroom stalls are covered in drawings, quotes and poetry.
These quotes and silly drawings may seem unimportant, but to Ashley Grant, a sophomore communications advocacy major, the art has a purpose.
At one point in Grant’s life, she had a mental breakdown and ran to the bathroom stalls in Stubbs. She said she remembers seeing a drawing of a girl with her eyes closed and her hair up and it helped her “get out of her funk.”
While the art in Stubbs hasn’t been painted over, these drawings in Walker have been repeatedly painted over by staff. To some students like Teighlor Paul, the constant drawings are disrespectful to the staff.
“I don’t see it as ‘art.’ There are designated areas where it is appropriate to display art. The bathroom, in my opinion, is not one of them,” said Paul, a second year graduate speech-language pathology major. “Vandalizing university facilities only forces someone else to clean up your mess.”
Many students like Savannah Woolford recognize that the drawings are vandalism, but don’t see the harm in them. According to Woolford, the quotes and drawings in the stalls bring a smile to her face every time she goes to the restroom.
“College is so stressful and rough, and to some people it might be the one thing that makes them smile throughout the week,” said Woolford, a junior social work major.
Students like Woolford and Olivia Myers, a senior English major, think there should be a designated place in the bathrooms or on campus for students to share their art work for others to see. But some of the art is not funny or nice. According to Madelyn Arender, a junior secondary education major, sometimes students write harsh or depressing words.
“Some of the art is really great, and the poetry has power. But there are arguments on those walls and those comments are destructive and degrading,” Arender said. “I feel like having an artistic outlet like that is amazing, but it needs to be a more respectful regarding atmosphere.”
Grant agreed, but said most of the negative comments have positive responses to them.
“The goofy, uplifting stuff always overpowered the negative like it always got marked out as soon as it was up,” Grant said.