King's bathroom graffiti gets blank slate

Students continue to write on washroom walls every time they're painted over

The cycle of graffiti continues. (Photo by Dane Butler)

The walls of the men's bathrooms on the bottom floor of the University of King's College Arts and Administration Building were briefly free from graffiti.

During the fall semester the walls became increasingly covered with quotes, doodles and scribblings. Writing graffiti in the bathrooms violates the King's Code of Conduct. Recently the walls were scrubbed and a coat of white paint was applied.

In an email to Unews, Gerry Smith, bursar of King's, said any graffiti found in the washrooms will be washed or painted over by maintenance when they get time to do it unless it's especially offensive. in that case, the school's president might ask for it to be dealt with.

The bathroom walls and stalls didn't stay clean for long. The fresh white paint only served as a blank canvas for a latrinalist, a person who writes bathroom graffiti. The cleaning may have encouraged more graffiti according to new messages written across the walls.

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New graffiti has appeared in King's bathrooms. The King's cleaning staff recently painted over previous student scribblings. (Photo slideshow: Lucas Newhook)


Latrinalia is the term academic researchers of modern folklore use to refer to the graffiti found in bathrooms. The term comes from the word latrine, another word for bathroom, and -alia, a Latin modifer used to refer to a collection of writings.

Soon after the white paint was applied, the phrase "tabula rasa" was scrawled in black marker above the urinal. The phrase is a Latin term coined by English philosopher John Locke that means "blank slate."

It was quickly followed by calls to action against the staff working to "censor" the graffiti. "This is what censorship looks like" was written across sections of white paint that covered old messages.

Other messages called on others to add to the messages using their paint, markers or pens to leave their mark and make a point.

"It's juvenile behaviour and sooner or later they grow out of it, but then along comes someone else to continue the pattern," Smith said.

He said that the fact that the bathrooms are the ones used by patrons of the Wardroom - the King's campus bar - are most likely to use is a major contribution to its graffiti. "But given a choice between graffiti and bodily expulsions the cleaning staff would rather clean the graffiti," he writes.

Smith said graffiti has continued to appear year after year and that on occasion the King's Student Union has told students to "respect their campus and their fellow students."


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