Writing on bathroom stalls: Decoration or delinquency?


By Courtney Bissonette

It is a war between right and wrong: Is the defacing of bathroom stalls art, expression, and entertainment, or grounds for detainment?

While you definitely have to be a certain type of person to have that insatiable need to find an easel in the strangest of places, it does provide something to read for those of us not doing the crime. And to be honest, it’s hard not to be impressed, if not by the art, at least by the amount of time spent dedicated to wasting time not being in class.
Perhaps there is a 1950’s romantic nostalgia about seeing a drawing or scratched out heart saying ” Bill + Kristen 4eva” which can still be seen in the women’s locker room bathroom of the gym, whose stalls have not been painted since the 1950’s. Or even the biting wit of a scorned ex advertising that if the reader wants a good time they should call “insert name”. If these bathroom murals are something you find interesting, know this, Suffolk delivers. Compared to high schools of today, writing on walls is occasional and meaningless. But on the Ammerman campus there’s always a lovely variety of little bathroom memos you can depend on. Such as the classic movie quotes like ” damn the man, save the empire”. A half devil half mermaid drawing with a speech bubble saying ” I’m Dakota Fanning” or “#Ibelieveinsherlockholmes.”

Occasional fights, usually starting with something about Jesus, appear in the stalls of the women’s room of the Islip Arts and Riverhead buildings; however, what I’ve seen more than anything recently are reassuring memos written to bathroom patrons of a particular stall. Some of these sayings include “Smile” “Be Happy” “Someone loves you” and “You are a limited edition”. Essentially, it’s the same things one might see on candy hearts.

On one hand, there is a cynic in me that thinks ‘What a stupid hippie. Grow up’ which is occasionally what is written underneath in response. But, occasional memos are written back that say ” I’ve had a bad day and this made me feel better,” or a simple “thank you” which leads me to believe that if we take off our fake nails women aren’t as catty as we are made out to be.

As young adults we face stressful situations that can occasionally be relieved with a kind word, so maybe this form of vandalism can be excused.

It’s easy to be critical of the writings on the stalls that deem them to be immature, unnecessary and outdated. A side probably exists for everyone that feels this is grade school stuff, and we should grow up. But that’s just it. We are in college, everyone around us is telling us to grow up, and we’re taking these classes because we’ve given in and agreed that it’s time. So maybe writing on the walls is the last chance to feel like we are all just kids in school again.

This is probably the last chance everyone has to write on bathroom stalls because let’s face it, you most likely will not see this on the stalls of your offices at the hands of your coworkers and superiors. Unless of course it’s really the teachers doing the defacing on campus, and if that’s the case throw out everything you’ve just read because I know nothing. Perhaps writing on bathroom stalls was the original tweet or Facebook status of our parents’ generation. While the telephone is obsolete, it’s interesting to see that this tradition of graffitti is still relevant and may actually be something that can stand the test of time.

[Reply]

One response

  1. Fascinating article Courtney! I just wish the graffiti around campus was more witty and creative. I sometimes have the urge to correct the bad grammar I see on the walls.

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