Years’ worth of writing detailing students’ struggles with mental health, sexual assault, and relationship drama lined the insides of a stall in the Morey second-floor women’s bathroom.
Last Wednesday, all of that was erased when the stall was painted over.
Facilities said in a statement it failed to follow their process when finding what one supervisor thought was “graffiti.” In such situations, both Dean of Students Matthew Burns and Public Safety must be consulted before any action by Facilities. In this instance, that step was bypassed.
The bathroom had served as a safe space for students to write their feelings out on the walls, and often to receive supportive messages in response. While the bathroom was a well-known secret among students and faculty, those who would have been able to protect the walls had been in the dark.
“I didn’t know about it, and I didn’t know enough to prevent it,” Burns told the Campus Times. “Walls are painted on occasion. It sounds like a routine work order was submitted — paint the bathroom in Morey.”
Once the Title IX office made Burns aware of the bathroom and its repainting, it was too late. In response, Burns posted a message by the bathroom and reached out to affected groups on campus in the hopes of having a conversation on the importance of spaces such as these, and what administration can do to reintroduce this space or create a similar one elsewhere on campus.
Facilities apologized for the oversight in an email and said all maintenance staff has been refreshed on the policy. “The team in no way meant to upset anyone by their actions,” Facilities said in the email.
There will be an open discussion on Tuesday, April 9 from 7–8 p.m. in Douglass 407, and possibly a second one on Wednesday, April 10 from 6–7 in Wilson Commons 121.
“I’ve heard back from several students that they want to come,” Burns said. “Anyone is invited to come to those meetings, and if the space is too small or the time is too short, then we’ll find a bigger space, or we’ll just keep meeting until everyone’s been heard.”