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LIU Post’s Underground Arts Program

By Joseph Iemma
Staff Writer

If a picture is worth more than 1,000 words, the graffiti on the halls, stalls, and bookshelves on campus would be priceless. As students weave their way, eagerly or anxiously through the bookshelves of the library, chances are they’ll feast their eyes on profane phrases and images illustrated by student “graffiti specialists.”

So, how does one earn the title, ‘graffiti specialist’? Very simple. In a covert, stealth like manner, the individual stains campus property with graffiti, while managing not to be caught by administration, or a member of Post’s custodial staff.

Photo: Caroline Ryan
Photo: Caroline Ryan

Thousands of students walk through the halls of Post hourly, so capturing one of these vandals is essentially the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. However, work done by Post’s graffiti specialists hardly, if ever, goes unnoticed.

Jalen Benson, a sophomore Political Science major, recounted a story about a piece of unsolicited art work. “I had just gotten out of my 9:30 a.m. political science class and bee-lined it to the men’s bathroom on the second floor of Humanities Hall, and boom, before I knew it, I was reading an ‘inspirational message’ from someone who called himself, ‘The Pooping Prophet,’” Benson said.

Benson is not the only student to encounter graffiti on campus this semester. Gabriella Vitolo, a senior business major, saw graffiti last week in the library, while searching for a textbook. “Plain and simple, there were images that I would expect to see in a middle school’s library, not a college library,” Vitolo said.

“It’s defacement of school property,” said Melissa Hinton, the assistant dean of technical & digital services at the library. In astern tone, Hinton expressed her distaste for the school’s graffiti problem, pleading to the culprits, “It’s your home away [from] home. Have pride in your institution and maintain it. Don’t deface LIU property.”

Hinton referred to page 32 of the 2015-16 student handbook. That section specifically goes over the ‘Goals and Benefits of the Academy.’ Stressing the importance of student ethics both on and off campus, the handbook reiterates that responsible behavior is vital to making LIU a reputable and professional institution of learning.

When asked if she had ever caught a student vandalizing the library, Hinton said, “No, but if a student is caught in the act they’d be sent to Public Safety, and from there, sent to the Dean.”

The office of public safety declined to comment on the graffiti. The facilities services department, headed by William Kirker, is the department left with the necessary, but not glamorous responsibility of cleaning and maintaining the dormitories, library and academic halls.

“We do our absolute best to keep our campus as clean as possible for students and faculty alike,” Kirker said.


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