The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

SU Lofts May Feature Communal Chalkboards

Plans to cover the newly painted Student Union lofts entirely in student murals have changed, and the lofts are now planned to display chalkboards in addition to murals. Members of the SU Student Committee raised concerns after an email sent to the student body in August said that the lofts were to be devoted solely to murals. The current proposal is to dedicate a small section of the loft walls to student murals and cover the remainder with chalkboards. This, says SU manager Emily Zhang, is in response to concerns that devoting the walls to murals would stifle widespread student expression. Though some Reed students have felt an attachment to the graffiti that used to cover the walls, Zhang explained that much of the tagging that had appeared in late spring last year—particularly following Stop Making Sense and Nitrogen Day—was from outside visitors. The appearance of several swastikas and a large tag over an extant student piece prompted the SU Student Committee to consider painting over the graffiti in its entirety.

Former SU manager Shawn Flanigan made the final decision, noting his concern that the unwanted tagging was “leaking down into the SU proper.” Flanigan also described an incident in which a Reed student attempted to voice his disapproval to outsiders who were tagging the South Loft, only to be “verbally pushed out” of the area. Such encounters, Flanigan concluded, were not conducive to maintaining the Student Union as a safe space.

Zhang added that the appearance of the SU is important because it is a source of income for the college; throughout the summer, the building is rented out to a variety of conferences and groups.

Both Zhang and Flanigan expressed dissatisfaction with the loft’s current paint job and lamented the loss of many student pieces of graffiti, including a hamster that used to reside above one of the doorways.

Zhang desires more student input. She plans to send the student body an email with a time and date for a meeting in which students can voice their concerns and ideas. Zhang and Flanigan both emphasized that the redecoration of the lofts is not a precedent to eradicate student graffiti from the school and said that the Hall of Power, which links the SU and the Gray Campus Center basement, in particular is “untouchable.”

Leave a Reply