Blind to the writing on the wall

A stall wall in the first-floor S Building men's bathroom; photo taken March 19 By Lianna Hubbard

By Lianna Hubbard and Emily Ralph

Victoria started getting text messages asking for sex in September 2017, when she was a 17-year-old dual-enrolled student.

“A random number texted me and said, ‘Do I need to make an appointment?’” Victoria said. “Someone had written my number on the bathroom wall and said ‘hoe, free head’ next to it.”

Victoria, whom the Compass identifies only by first name to safeguard her privacy, got two other texts after that asking for sex. She ignored them and blocked the numbers.

“It really made me feel bad about myself, to have someone say that about me,” said Victoria.

Graffiti litter the walls of the first-floor S Building men’s bathroom. These graffiti depict pornography, slurs and misogynist language, as well as harmless doodles of hearts and political messaging.

The FSW Compass identified six phone numbers on the walls of the S Building bathroom, and four more across men’s bathrooms on Lee campus. Most numbers were scratched out with markers or pencil or faded. Next to these phone numbers were written solicitations for sex.

One crossed out number had “free head” written next to it. Another on the door of the bathroom had a winking face next to it.

FSW’s Title IX coordinator, Jana Sabo, said that there have been no complaints about the phone numbers in bathroom stalls.

“It (the graffiti) would have to create a hostile environment (to be a violation),” said Sabo. “A list of phone numbers being there with no actions being taken, that’s not enough.”

Joey Hall, an FSW computer programming student, began noticing the phone numbers in 2017.

“I imagined if someone had done this to me, and a bunch of strangers started calling me asking for sex,” said Hall. “It just seemed that that’d be something really terrible to deal with.”

Hall has crossed out most of the numbers he found in the bathrooms.

“I’ve texted all of them, just to see the sort of people on the other end,” said Hall.

He said that most of the reactions have been annoyance or indifference. Regardless, Hall has reported all of the numbers he saw to Public Safety.

“I’ve reported basically from the beginning,” said Hall. “I went to the D Building and someone at the front desk took down what I said.”

Hall said he has made about six reports to Public Safety about the graffiti.

In fall 2018, Hall reported a piece of graffiti on the bathroom stall wall of J Building’s second floor men’s bathroom, a number with the words “call if you want some sucky f***y” written next to it.

A phone number and solicitation for sex on the second-floor J Building men’s bathroom stall wall, allegedly reported to Public Safety by Joey Hall last semester; photo taken March 19
By Bishop McDonald

Hall texted the number when he found it.

Steven Cenno, the owner of the number and a former FSW student, was initially confused when Hall contacted him.

“I thought that it was someone trying to be funny or something,” Cenno said.

No one besides Hall contacted Cenno about the graffiti.

“If it were one of my friends or someone I know with my number, they would have eventually told me,” Cenno said.

Instead of scratching the number out, Hall made a report to Public Safety’s front desk on December 12.

Captain Reginald Mitchell of Public Safety says that anyone can make a report to Public Safety by following the same procedures Hall did. They will be contacted for an interview.

Hall says Public Safety never asked for his contact information and never contacted him. Hall did not offer his contact information to Public Safety.

The graffiti are still up.

Besides phone numbers, the bathroom walls also display misogynist, racist and homophobic language. One faded message written in pen on the bathroom stall wall of S Building’s bathroom says, “its not rape if she likes it.”

One exchange on the stall wall of J Building’s first floor men’s bathroom goes something like this:

“It’s okay to be yourself”

“Unless you’re gay”

“Fa*s”

In the first floor men’s bathroom between P and O buildings, one piece of graffiti hits two marks, with homophobic language and a racial slur. It reads, “gay a** n****” with a laughing face written next to it.

“We haven’t had any case of graffiti,” said Captain Mitchell, “especially of a racial nature.”

Hall’s most recent report to Public Safety was on Feb. 20. The day before, Hall found the n-word written across the walls of one stall in the S Building first-floor men’s bathroom.

Hall says he made a report to Public Safety and “showed them the photos” of the graffiti.

A few days later, the stall was closed. A week later it opened again and the walls were scrubbed clean of any graffiti.

Some phone numbers can still be found in the stalls of men’s bathrooms on campus.

Hall has since scratched out Victoria’s number and contacted her. After a month, she stopped receiving text messages.

The graffiti have yet to be removed.

“I just didn’t see the point [of reporting it],” Victoria said. “I didn’t think it was that big a deal.”

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