How not to remove graffiti

In the last couple years, winter break has been the time when Facilities has made their rounds through the stacks and cleaned the graffiti from the walls. But when I dropped by the stacks this morning, I saw that not only have they jumped the gun this year, they also seem to have failed at the very purpose of painting over graffiti, which I understand to be the following:

  1. Make the graffiti invisible
  2. Deter other would-be graffiti artists by removing the “primer” of previous graffiti– it takes a while for a blank wall to be written on the first time, but once there’s graffiti more is likely to follow

The timing alone is bad; it’s finals week, and wall-writing tends to increase during finals week. Even if they did a good job painting over pre-existing graffiti, they’d just have to go back next week. But painting over graffiti badly– to the point where the walls look like a woman with a zit who’s overdone it on the concealer, thereby only drawing attention to the blemish– is just asking for trouble. Indeed, supplemental graffiti has already sprung up next to the obviously painted-over graffiti (such as “farts”, above), there’s all-new graffiti (such as John Hancock and What is the good life?), and much of the original graffiti is still perfectly visible through the paint.

It’s worth noting, though, that T.S. Eliot was once again painted over, but this time with more care than before. The Arabic (or, at least, Arabic-script) graffiti was left alone, as was the smiley face. The elephant, on the other hand, received a hearty dose of white paint.

For the full collection of painted-over graffiti, see the Flickr set.

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