CSUN searches for solution to graffiti problem

Steffanie Tate

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Graffiti and stickers can be found in bathrooms, the interior of a buildings, parking structures, newspaper boxes, and on stops signs. The old football field on the north side of campus across from Zelzah Ave. has become a favorite place for graffiti artists at night. Photo credit: Virgina Bulacio

With the new developments and renovations around campus, such as the Valley Performance Arts Center and the new Student Recreation Center, CSUN staff is working together to prevent graffiti and the defacing of school property.

“(Graffiti) is probably a $7,000 to $8,000 problem a year.” said Lynn Wiegers, interim executive director for Physical Plant Management (PPM).

PPM recorded the highest number of hours devoted to graffiti removal last year, at 232 hours, Wiegers said.

The areas that are hit the worst (with graffiti) are the north side of campus and the sportscaster booth on the football field, Wiegers said.

“You name it and they will put paint on it,” said Wiegers.

Wiegers said it takes about one-and-a-half man hours to clean each graffiti occurrence, and is a huge waste of time for painters on campus.  Wiegers said they could be painting a classroom, but it won’t get done because the painters are called to clean up graffiti.

Brenda Magana and Jonathan Benyamin said they have not noticed any traces of graffiti on campus.

“I don’t think I’ve walked around and seen any on campus,” said Magana, 19, an urban studies and planning major.

“(You) barely see any to be honest,” added Benyamin, 21, a communication studies major.

TAG (Together Against Graffiti) is a campaign launched by the Department of Police Services in April of 2010. Its goal is to raise awareness of new graffiti on campus, said Christina Villalobos, special assistant to the chief of police and community relations officer.

“Timely reporting is important,” Villalobos said.

When launching the campaign, the Department of Police Services posted flyers on campus and made a Facebook page.

“No one way is going to work,” Villalobos said.

Students caught defacing university property are disciplined according to circumstances and prior records, Villalobos said.  However, consequences may include arrest and possible expulsion.

“Graffiti is vandalism, and a crime,” Villalobos said.

Wiegers said it’s not just students who are defacing school property, but people off campus as well.

“It’s a function of who is around the neighborhood,” Wiegers said.

PPM has found a product that they will test on targeted graffiti areas. The product is meant to make the removal easier, Wiegers said.

“We are looking at a product that is very expensive,” he said, adding that if it works properly, it will take less time to clean tagged areas and make it easier to paint over.

“It’s a shame that people are wasting their great talents on defacing school property”, Wiegers said.

Wiegers mentioned the new beautiful mural that was painted in CSUN’s botanical gardens.  He said PPM is concerned that it might get tagged and ruined.

“We want to keep our campus looking beautiful,” Villalobos said.