Foothill bathrooms see a rise in grafitti

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Foothill bathrooms see a rise in grafitti

Jennifer Chang

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Over the past year, Foothill has seen a rise in the most common form of vandalism in schools: graffiti.

Mario Pasmant, the head of custodial staff, said that in the 13 years he’s been at the school, he has seen a notable increase in graffiti in the girls’ bathroom, whereas the boys’ bathroom has always had a significant amount.

“In the boys’ bathroom particularly, I have to call Dana, the campus supervisor, because I can’t distinguish if it is gang-related or drug-related. Dana will have to go and photograph it and go over it with our resource officer,” Pasmant said.

The sign on the door of the boys' bathroom in Spirito Hall. Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

The sign on the door of the boys’ bathroom in Spirito Hall. Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

“I would call it tagging in the boys; with the girls it’s not tagging. It’s more descriptive, where it says who they’re unhappy with or calling this girl a b-word.”

Students have reported that some of the graffiti has stated things about depression and suicide.

“It’s really bothersome to the staff that people will write that they want to take their lives or they’re distressed about something or somebody,” Pasmant said.

Other graffiti consists of a variety of content, from obscene drawings and vulgar language to phone numbers to encouraging messages and inspirational quotes.

“I hate the graffiti in the bathrooms. It’s hypocritical to write ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ in the bathroom stall when you’re just being lazy and vandalizing our school,” senior Ava Fenwick said. “Think of the people who have to spend time cleaning your mess up.”

Pasmant said that each piece of graffiti in the girls bathroom takes 20 minutes to clean up, whereas the defacement in the boys bathroom takes longer because it needs to be grinded off.

“The boys have started using a sharp object […] and they start carving into the plastic partition,” Pasmant said. “The boys are more destructive. They want it to be permanent.”

On the other hand, some students believe that graffiti is a way to express imagination as well as form of artistic beauty.

Sophomore Gracelyn De La Cruz believes that graffiti in the bathrooms is fitting because it is a way to convey originality, especially at a school with a reputation for individuality.

“I think it’s appropriate, especially for Foothill being a creative school with creative students. I believe that we should be allowed to draw in the bathrooms,” she said.

Art teacher Justin Frazier does not agree.

“The lines between graffiti and art are fuzzy at best and that line depends very much on the individual,” Frazier said. “The main reason graffiti is not regarded as art [is because] you are defacing someone else’s property. If you are going to draw on someone else’s wall it had better be a masterpiece.”

“It shows disrespect for the school as well as a sense of entitlement. It’s like saying ‘I’m gonna do what I want and someone else can clean it up,'” he said.

Consequences for graffiti, which by law counts as a form of vandalism, consist of restitution, fines, probation, and in severe cases, juvenile detention.

Junior Belen Brashears is one of several students who feel the graffiti should not be condemned.

“Although it is vandalism, I think it would be cool to embrace this Foothill trend because often the kids here write encouraging, thoughtful things that brings joy to the campus,” Brashears said.

“Because the administration doesn’t like the vandalism, putting up paper or chalk boards in the bathrooms would be a cool way to get around the problem all while letting Foothillians share their creativity and positive messages to all,” Brashears suggested.

Frazier, however, sees the vandalism as disrespectful to the school.

“If you write it on the bathroom wall, you should be okay with tattooing it on your body,” Frazier said, with tongue-in-cheek.

Featured Photo Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

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