CSU College Republicans Create Anti-Graffiti Project · 02 March 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

By Amy Sulzbach--Colorado State Collegian, 03/03/04

The College Republicans are starting a campaign against the politically charged graffiti and chalking outside of the Lory Student Center's Plaza using a collection of photos exposing the scribbles found on campus.

The project, named "Campus Insanity", is a way for students to express their grievances against anti-conservative and anti-Republican messages.

These messages are often spray painted on walls and pathways around university property, said Jesse Mallory, the group's co-chair and a senior political science major.

Jacob Seybert, a group member and senior psychology major, maintains the project on the College Republican's Web site, where graffiti photos and student feedback are posted.

Seybert said photos that clearly "cross the line" of both vandalism and political bias are put on the site.

By showing photos to students, professors and community members, the group hopes that not only will people become aware of what it considers to be hostile messages, but also that the messages will get cleaned up.

It has been weeks and months and some of the things people write are still up, Mallory said.

The group points to two locations behind the Education Building's north side as an example. The spray-painted words "Mr. Bush you are a liar," have remained on a sidewalk and a retaining wall since the beginning of the semester.

Pictures on the Web site show other spots on campus where messages have once appeared and often still exist. The pictures include political cartoons and advocacy ads featured on faculty office doors as well.

"People can put up what they want on campus; it's part of free speech," said Brandon Bean, a junior political science major.

College Republicans are not trying to take away students right to free speech, Mallory said, but they want everybody to realize that this vandalism is offensive to a large part of the student population.

"We have the right to oppose it," Mallory said.

Bean thinks the project will be largely inefficient.

"I don't feel like the site is actually discussing any issues," he said.

He also said the project's name is discriminatory because it insinuates that others' views are wrong.

The group expected a lot of student opposition to "Campus Insanity", but Mallory said that for the most part, it just is not forming.

"Campus Insanity" is also being supported by several local officials, lobbyists and legislators, and community members, he said.

Mallory recently spoke with Colorado Gov. Bill Owens. He described the Governor's reaction to the project as surprised. According to Mallory, Owens was shocked that political disagreement has turned into actual vandalism at CSU.

Mallory explained to Owens the "magnitude" of the CSU campus situation, and he said Owens supports the venture.

Mallory has also held discussions with David Horowitz about his support for the group's project and Horowitz's desire to include information about "Campus Insanity" on the Students for Academic Freedom Web site.

The project would serve as a model and as encouragement to other campuses looking to be involved or to campuses currently involved.

At the project's onset, Mallory and other group members presented the assortment of photos at a Larimer County Republicans' breakfast meeting in early February.

The collective response, he said, was that of surprise about the issue and support for the project. The group has also shown the pictures to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colorado and several other legislators.

Students have been sending in feedback and utilizing the "Campus Insanity" project Web site for several weeks now. Seybert has posted several comments from students in response to the collection of pictures: comments that both agree and disagree with the projects mission.

The group is considering adding a list of what it sees as offensive or ideologically biased quotes from university faculty and professors.

The goal is to create a forum where any student, in dissent or agreement, can submit photos and comments to the site creator.

"Republican or not, there is support for it," Mallory said.

Though some students like Bean see the project as politically biased, the group said it wants to reach beyond partisan politics.

Regardless of the political messages behind the graffiti, "it's unsightly," Seybert said.

Sara Farb, a junior biomedical sciences major and co-chair of the College Republicans, said the problem is not just people putting messages up in unapproved locations around campus outside of the Plaza. It is also that people have taken to using spray paint, which is not cleaned up as easily as chalk.

At this point, she said, it becomes another issue entirely -- vandalism.

Bean, conversely, sees the painted or chalked opinions as just that -- opinions in the form of peaceful protest.

"These phrases aren't hurting anybody," Bean said.

Eli Torres, the student center's custodial supervisor, said students are able to write anything they want in the Plaza as long as it remains non-racial and non-discriminatory.

All messages must be made with a washable material, Torres said.