Bathroom Graffiti

I just got back from a conference in Montreal — it was a very interesting event and I’d like to blog about it in more detail once I’ve unpacked and had some sleep. As I unwind tonight, however, I want to blog about graffiti. Specifically, I want to blog about how interesting graffiti in the bathrooms of campuses can be. I’m not talking about the boring “AB + DC = 4-EVER” kind of graffiti but, rather, the scrawled dialogues about politics, the environment, gender, etc. that are often found in campus bathrooms. (Perhaps this happens in other locales too, but in my experience this tends to be a university or college phenomenon.) It is especially fascinating when one person’s scribbles spark a whole range of replies. I remember one particular bathroom at the U of A in which two sharpie-wielding members of the campus community carried on an extensive debate about abortion for weeks. It was fascinating — more so for the venue and manner in which this debate was carried out than in what was specifically being said.

I noticed this weekend that the bathrooms at Concordia had some pretty interesting material as well. Environmental politics seem to dominate these bathroom walls at the moment — a reflection of the greening of political debates in a wider sense? As I read the Concordia graffiti it struck me that I haven’t encountered this sort of thing at Brock. At first I wondered if it was maybe a phenomenon exclusive to large urban campuses, but then I remembered that Queen’s University had its fair share of politically-engaged bathroom graffiti. Now, I’d never suggest students vandalize campus property, but I sure am curious about the reasons for this absence. Maybe it happens, but just not in the parts of the campus that I tend to frequent. Perhaps I don’t see this kind of graffiti because we have an especially diligent custodial staff at Brock. Are Brock students finding other fora in which to express their political views? I believe I may have to conduct some research into this.

4 thoughts on “Bathroom Graffiti

  1. At Oberlin College, the librarians (or somebody else, maybe?) put up large rolls of paper in the bathroom stalls on the basement floor of the library, where people would go to study late into the night. There were some amazing discussions that went on there. I wish I’d taken pictures. You should put up paper in heavily-frequented bathrooms at Brock and see what happens. I bet it would just spark itself.

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