(February 7, 2002, Gazette)
in the wall, phallic symbols sketched on murals, and the writings in the
bathroom stalls. Which one of these things is not like the other? Which
one of these things is not the same? Trick question.
Technically, theyre all variations of the same thing: vandalism.
At first glance it may seem like vandalism is a minor problem at MUN.
Its not like we, as students, have to pay a vandalism fee
every semester. St. Johns, as far as cities go, is an extremely
safe place in which vandalism seems almost nonexistent. However, by taking
a closer look at the halls and classrooms around MUN, one starts to understand
the large volume of this very real problem. The desks in the Arts Building
are filled with a surreal conglomerate of monsters and logos as fast as
the custodial staff can wash them off.
example of the result of vandalism on the St. Johns campus.
The Munnels are full of tags,
or peoples names or nicknames written on locker doors and walls.
As for the bathrooms around campus, any random stall is bound to be covered
with cryptic scrawl consisting of poetry, phone numbers, and sex-related
images and writings. Then there are the stickers. Theyre all over
the lockers, walls, and advertising posters. This, too, is a form of vandalism.
Any defacement or destruction of anothers property without consent
is considered vandalism.
Why do people vandalize? Well, it could be a way for someone to say that
they have been to a place. Perhaps its a middle finger to the establishment,
an action motivated by frustration at the university, tuition fees, and
the pressures of student life. But what do you think?
I asked students what their opinion on the matter was, and if they saw
it as a problem. Jeff Summers, a third year German and French major, said,
the colours on these lockers is vandalism. Look at it, its
Perhaps vandals are trying to beautify the campus by adding their own
personal touches. Maybe the university should consider a paint job. Andrew
Bonia, an English major, quipped, vandalism here is Johnny
loves Marie while in other places in Canada its creative pictures.
Theres a line to be drawn I guess, but most of it is destructive.
Perhaps the university should ask students to step forward and add their
own artwork to the walls of MUN. Judging by the images in the Munnels,
there hasnt been a new mural since 1970.
Trina Chiasson, a biology major, said, it is absolutely horrendous
to go into the bathrooms and locker rooms which have markings all over
the wall. Its just like being in junior high. I think at the university
level you should be more mature.
Mark Connoly, a math major, agrees with Trina, stating that vandalism
(downgrades) the quality of the school and the buildings in the
school. If youre paying this place for your education, why would
you want to vandalize it?
On the other hand, Christian Bryant, Computer Science, suggested, Its
a part of society, theres nothing you can do about it.
Then there are views similar to those of John Matcham, a second-year political
science major, which suggests its a way to go against the grain.
I agree with some forms of vandalism, as they are a way of jamming
other, perhaps mainstream, ideas. As for stickers that promote reducing
tuition fees, they are attention getters. It depends on the eye of the
beholder and the context in which it is written. If it has a real message
behind it, I dont mind as much.
Perhaps there is nothing we can do about vandalism. Based on the responses
I received, it seems that most people are against this crime because it
makes their living space ugly and cryptic. Perhaps only a small minority
of students, or people that arent students at all, engage in this
practice. Vandalism could be a clue to trends in society. Vandalism may
be a sign that students are unhappy with fees, grading practices, and
other things that they have little control over. Is this a cry for help?
Maybe therell be an answer one day, scrawled all over the walls.