Students’ lack of respect in use of Johnson Wall shows larger need for accountability on campus

Christian Morales
October 8, 2013
Filed under Opinions

One would think that a dazzling two-story media wall, modern technology in every classroom and almost entirely brand new furniture would earn students’ respect for the newly renovated Johnson Hall. However, one part of the renovated space is being misused, serving as an example of a larger trend of students’ neglect for common spaces on campus.

One of Johnson’s most innovative new features is a glass wall where students can draw in erasable pen. Much like the media wall, this interactive area is meant to be curated by members of the Occidental community who could provide relevant and useful contributions.

Unfortunately, this wall is covered nearly exclusively with comments that do not enrich or enhance student and faculty perspectives, and thus, it does not fulfill its purpose. Granted, there are some messages that are informative, introducing new ideas or announcing upcoming events, but these are the minority. Doodles, inside jokes and largely illegible scrawls cover much of the board.

In order to restore the wall’s objective, the Occidental community should make a concerted effort to prevent individuals from writing unneeded, silly and trivial messages and instead encourage more productive or critical discourse. Also, students should take into consideration the labor required to maintain the glass wall. On a regular basis, Occidental’s cleaning staff is required to erase the messages on the wall, but maintenance of the messages should be a duty undertaken by students.

Students need to be held responsible for cleaning up after themselves. Occidental’s cleaning staff should not be spending their time at work picking up after unnecessary messes created carelessly by students. Johnson Hall’s writing glass wall is only one of many areas in which students continue to not pick up after themselves, as is easily visible in the library and its study rooms, classrooms, the Cooler and the Marketplace. If students take initiative and encourage their peers to clean up after themselves, conditions in common areas will improve.

However, if students continue to believe that it is the cleaning staff’s responsibility to clean up after them, there should be serious repercussions. Those who vandalize the wall, or who blatantly disrespect other common areas on campus should be punished by having to clean up the mess themselves.

Students must be aware of how much work goes into maintaining the conditions of the college and demonstrate a higher respect for the work individuals on the cleaning staff do for this environment.

Holding students accountable for their own messes in common spaces would represent tangible evidence of Occidental’s commitment to the value of respecting others.

Habituating and enforcing this kind of courtesy reaffirms the belief that the Occidental community should hold itself to a higher standard. Students need to understand that they are not more important than those that clean on their behalf, and individuals on the cleaning staff should feel welcomed on campus as more than just workers, but also as a part of the Occidental community.

Johnson’s new walls should be an easy place to start. Until students learn to effectively and respectfully use the wall, this potentially useful addition to the school’s academic environment will just serve as evidence that students and faculty feel they are better than the college’s cleaning staff.

Johnson Hall is a beautiful building. However, students and faculty are, ironically enough, detracting from the novelty and beauty of the building, showing that the community is taking advantage of and disrespecting the individuals on the cleaning staff that maintain this campus.

Christian Morales is an undeclared first-year. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @WklyCMorales.

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2 Responses to “Students’ lack of respect in use of Johnson Wall shows larger need for accountability on campus”

  1. Candee on October 10th, 2013 11:27 pm

    Clearly Oxy needs to hire a Media Wall coordinator to make sure school policy is being followed. They should also provide a 24 hour hotline where anyone can report inappropriate use of the wall, and also establish a disciplinary process for those who upset the campus with their illegible scrawls. Don’t forget a special session during Orientation that is integrated with the FYRE program.


    Yet Anon Again Reply:

    Hello Candee!

    You seem to be referencing some of the efforts undertaken to address the issue of Sexual Assault and Rape on this campus.

    While understanding the reference, I don’t get the joke/meaning.

    Is this a commentary on the scope of the media wall issue in relation to the, in my opinion, more important Sexual Assault and Rape issue?

    Or is it suggesting that the Sexual Assault and Rape issue is over-emphasized? (a feeling I’m sure numerous folk share)

    I simply can’t quite parse your point of view here – little help?


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