Students have used the walls of the tunnels between West Campus and the MSC to express themselves artistically and to advertise for organizations for many years. Recently, signs have been placed along the tunnels to prohibit this graffiti.
The signs were put up after Texas A&M officials reviewed the Campus Master Plan and the recent changes to University Rule 51.99.99.M0.02 which states “Chalking is not permitted on any vertical surface including but not limited to buildings, steps, signs, statues, benches, picnic tables, and walls — including the walls of the Pedestrian Passageway and the Vehicular Passageway, both off of Wellborn Road.”
Kelly Brown, associate vice president of the division of marketing and communications, said the signs were put up to keep in mind the perspective of the maintenance team that cleans the tunnels.
“Specifically, with regard to the Pedestrian Passageway, while individuals would use chalk for their messages on the walls, periodically we would find someone used a substance other than chalk that would be very difficult to remove and/or cause damage to the brick,” Brown said. “Also, many businesses were using it as a place for their advertising, and that contributed in part to the changes.”
Biomedical sciences senior Ashton Hutcherson is part of an organization on campus called A&M Artists.
“I know most of the time it’s used for advertising, which isn’t really what I want to see when I go under there,” Hutcherson said. “But, a lot of times there’s like really cool murals and interesting pieces, and it all just reflects the creativity and innovation of the students at A&M.”
Electrical engineering senior Jordan Klepser was one of the first few students to take to social media about his thoughts on the new rule.
“I heard rumors about some apartment complexes using paint instead of chalk, which kind of ruins it for everybody else because people have to go down there to clean it and spend money and time,” Klepser said. “But it’s more than just that, I can’t count the number of times that I saw something unique down there that brightened up my day or I thought was creative. It really gave students a platform to express themselves in different ways, ways that you might not expect.”
Klepser said restricting paint and enforcing a fine may solve the issue of maintenance having to do the extra work to clean the tunnels.
“There’s no reason to not use chalk down there. It’s not harmful to the walls, but paint and things like that are,” Klepser said. “It’s definitely become a part of the culture that students get to know when they come here. It’s one of the little things that makes the time that you go here much better.”