“Vandal[ism] is a mortal sin of art. Just like sex, bro” boldly proclaims an inscription on a chair in PE16TC. Many other wisecrack graffiti, such as “Kill the pope” and “F**k Today’s Carolinian, they’re conformist” to state a few, are a ubiquitous sight in our university, and probably most-if not all of us have seen our fair share of these markings.
They’re seen from the restroom cubicle doors, to almost every chair in the classrooms and they range from humorous, tactless ramblings, to downright insulting remarks. No school property seems to be safe from the hands and pen of these notorious vandals. Apparently, not much stand in their way to stop them from doing graffiti. They’re not fazed by the sanctions because they know it’s hard to catch them in the act, and even harder (impossible, probably) to trace them once they’ve done it and left a door, wall or chair literally marked. Which begs the question, why students do it in the first place?
Some Carolinians claim that it is an art form, others declare it to be a fun way to kill time while pooping, and there are also students who said that they think that other students do it simply for the thrill of breaking the rules. Do you agree Vandals? Non-Vandals? Let’ see the experts’ take on this, shall we?
Sociologist Stanley Cohen (as cited in Horowitz & Tobaly, 2003) suggests that “acts of vandalism are motivated by anger, boredom, catharsis, erosion of already damaged objects or aesthetic factors” (p.131). Cohen’s article clearly supports some of the aforementioned remarks from a number of Carolinians, such as boredom and art. But what of erosion of already damaged objects? Apparently, the sight of broken property also tempts vandals to degrade the property further since it’s already broken anyway. Moving on to Catharsis. Catharsis is the release of repressed feelings– feelings one otherwise can’t express in a restrictive environment such as schools, and vandalism appears to be a thrilling and bold way to make a statement and let out all the harbored negativity. A research by Tamar Horowitz and David Tobaly (2003) in school vandalism also showed that the perceived level of vandalism and attitude towards school and teachers also affects student’s participation in vandalism. As our experience with our peers and media have proven, when one is constantly exposed to a certain behavior, or if a good portion of the population around an individual behaves in a certain way, the individual eventually jumps into the bandwagon-sometimes consciously, other times unconsciously regardless if it’s right or wrong, and joins the majority. When seen from the perspective of the learning theory, if what is common in an environment is destructive behavior- like vandalism, then individuals will be inclined more to behave according to that dominant norm. Thus, the more vandalism seen in an environment, the higher the chances there are that people will be motivated more to engage in the act. Attitude towards school and teachers also play a role in motivating students to vandalize according to Horowitz and Tobaly (2003). Past researches have also shown that social context is a key element in vandalism, and that it is more rampant in schools that do not promote student’s welfare; where students don’t have a sense of belonging. If the school environment promotes teamwork; and when students find that the school is related to their lives and it can advance their goals; and the school defines norms and such that students feel the system is fair, vandalism is less likely to occur. (Casserly, Bass & Garret, 1982; Zeisel, 1969, as cited in Horowitz &Tobaly, 2003). Thus the social context affects the participation of students in vandalism.
Do you think that the University of San Carlos falls under the category “supportive, fair, enhancing and having curricula and teachers that exhibit pedagogic techniques that make lessons relevant to our daily personal lives”?
Take note though that there is still a considerable amount of doodles of male genitals on our chairs and cursing and lewd conversations written on our cubicle doors. The “Push button to eject teacher” vandalism on one of our chairs in CAS has been a regular sight for us since my first year in this university. PAASCU accreditation has come and gone, but the obscenities are still on our chairs.
After interviewing another batch of Carolinians, it seemed that it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that boredom and frustration bring out the demons in us just as well as pride and jealousy does.
So why do students waste their ink on walls, armchairs and bathroom doors? The want to unload negative emotional baggage from anxieties, frustrations and insecurities they feel in school, the excitement from being rebellious, art, peer pressure, anger and boredom. There may be more, but only the vandals can be sure. Or not. Anyhow, nobody has the monopoly on truth, remember?