Think Before You Tag

Last week, an anonymous tagger sprayed “Civility,” “A” for anarchy and even a “Fuck Yudof” all over various campus buildings. My question is not who or why, but what? What are these words supposed to instill in the students of UC Irvine?

I knew what these words did to me. They empowered me and angered me. They were words of encouragement to the students, pushing them to take charge and not give up without a fight.

But they were also relatively permanent, the spray paint difficult to remove. After my 9:00 a.m. class in the Biological Sciences Lecture Hall, I was surprised to see a ”Civility” tagged on the side of the Science Library. What angered me was the fact that there were numerous workers who stood around, frowns on their faces as they were forced to remove the graffiti in the pouring rain. Because I felt bad for the extra work they had to do, I was quick to ask them if they had any clue who was responsible. Together they replied: “Nope. No clue. Don’t they understand that by doing this, it’s extra money that we have to use to remove it?”

That tipped me off the boat. Were these words even impactful to the rest of the students? Was I the only one who really even noticed them?

It seemed that way as I passed various tagged spots on campus, where eyes only lingered for a millisecond before students resumed their daily lives. It did not influence them with the force it should have. They seemed utterly apathetic to it. The tagging was obviously unimpressive and therefore not worth the amount of time and energy that it took. Sure, the words and phrases used, like “This is yours,” sparked some attention and allowed minds to wonder at the meaning of the phrases. But ultimately, they were unsuccessful. I was lucky to catch a student glancing at the wall of the Science Library after class.

“People barely notice them. The culprits could pretty much be anyone. They should have made it more appealing and legible. If you are going to graffiti at least make it so people can read it!” Marlon Castillo said.

And he brought up a good point. The slogans and the writing were utterly illegible; some of the slogans were not even finished. Maybe they were running out of time, but using silver spray on a pastel peach colored building? Really? It seems these culprits didn’t learn the basic color scheme in elementary school. As I attempted to take pictures, the writing on the building was so hard to read on my pictures, they weren’t even Facebook-worthy.

After about 20 or so indecipherable pictures, I gave up. Trying to narrow down the possible students who did this would not be hard. They wrote “LIES” on the New University newsstands, so they obviously were not in favor of the articles this newspaper has published. They also tagged the Cross-Cultural Center and Administration buildings, two areas where numerous important cultural and executive groups like ASUCI gather. These students obviously felt that our media and executives did not emphasize the troubles we are going through as students.

But I have to give the students who did this some credit. They were obviously intelligent enough to understand that the students need to display their rights, empower themselves and take a stand on the privatization of the UC system. This has been one of the hardest years for UC students. With various racist acts, the budget cuts on higher education and the ridiculous fee increase, it would make sense that certain students feel the need to display acts of rebellion against the UC superpowers. Those UC superpowers include Mark G. Yudof and those wonderful administrators who take huge pay checks for hurting instead of helping us. The actions of the taggers were not completely done in vain, but all I can say is this: Can I see better next time?

Rashmi Guttal is a second-year English major. She can be reached at rguttal@uci.edu.