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Students respond to campus graffiti

Nouse asked students what they think about the graffiti on campus

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Image Credit: Rebecca Crowther

After the defacement of York’s historic city walls and church door last Monday, concerns over rampant graffiti on the University campus have grown. On 28 February, red symbols and hieroglyphics were daubed on a stretch of the medieval York Walls and on the doorway of St Olave’s Church on Marygate.

This was met with a large outcry from locals who condemned the graffiti as “deplorable” and “appalling.” A police spokesperson said the public had been “quite rightly shocked” by the vandalism and urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

The defacement of these historic sites has been met with concerns over graffiti on campus buildings. Students have expressed to Nouse their disappointment at the University’s lack of initiative when handling vandalism.

One student told Nouse they can see the insult “F**k the Government” outside their window next to an image of a sickle and hammer in Vanbrugh College, while others have noticed the words “RIOT” and “DROP” on the wall outside the Exhibition centre.

The University has seen numerous defacements across campus ranging from anti-government slurs to removal of letters from department buildings. This was particularly the case after the 2019 general election when Central Hall was vandalised with the words “protest tory fascism...riot” along with similar slogans on Vanbrugh buildings.

Despite the University’s efforts to remove graffiti on campus property, some students have complained about the University’s slow response. A physics student ambassador has said: “The University really needs to do something about the letters on the Exhibition Centre, it’s awkward when I’m showing prospective students around and there is vandalism”.

Despite this, some students have told Nouse that they respect the graffiti on campus, regarding it as a source of creativity and political awareness. One student said: “I like it. I think there’s no reason to not have graffiti. It is a means of self-expression and brightens up the place, while also making the buildings look less generic.”

Patrick O’Donnell, President of University of York Students’ Union, said: “While ensuring the safety and security of people and buildings is ultimately a matter for University Security, it’s disappointing to see that some members of our community resort to defacing campus. Fundamentally, fixing broken fixtures and removing graffiti only further depletes funds which are available to students to improve their education and wider University experience.”

The University commented: “In addition to the University’s CCTV network, our security team conducts regular, high visibility patrols across campus. Graffiti is a criminal act and it is not acceptable to deface any buildings. It will not be tolerated and we will take action where we can. We ask anyone with any information about graffiti on campus to contact our security team. Many of our buildings are listed and enjoyed by students, staff and the wider community, so graffiti is always removed as quickly as possible.”

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