Art or vandalism?


Tag left on classroom chair. Photo by Kassandra Aguirre

Kassandra Aguirre, Social Media Editor

Graffiti is a highly widespread art form that takes on a world of meanings that many Californians are familiar with. People tag to express their beliefs, create art, mark territory, and show other forms of expression or ownership. Although graffiti is a beautiful and respectable art form, it’s also considered vandalism on private and public property, including schools. 

Walking through campus, it’s easy to tell West Covina High School isn’t an exception to taggers. Bathroom stalls are covered with rumors written on the walls, and sides of buildings are filled with drawings of genitalia and profanity.

“It’s low effort rebellion,” freshman Lexander Piatos stated, as to why he thinks graffiti is so common around school. 

Graffiti is quick and easy; students can do it anywhere with anything from a pencil to keys. Along with how effortless it is, it seems relatively harmless compared to other rules people break on campus. 

It’s easy to see tagging as a small problem and disregard the frustration it brings custodians who have to repeatedly clean up the tags. Although custodians were not available for interview, it doesn’t need to be voiced to see it’s clearly becoming a common annoyance. 

Custodial staff attempted to cover graffiti from the bathroom stall, which remains visible.
Photo by Kassandra Aguirre

The energy and time that custodial staff puts in to clean graffiti is one thing, the cost of the supplies needed to clean them up is another factor. 

“Thankfully so far it hasn’t caused permanent damage, which is good, but it definitely takes away our custodians from their regular assignments,” Assistant Principal Kristie Jackson said about tagging and custodians’ struggles on campus. 

“I think the worst thing is a lack of respect for the community in which we live in,” Jackson continued. 

In most cases people who tag are never caught, however the punishments for tagging can be severe and ranges from counseling to suspension and payment from the family to repair any damage caused. 

Tagging as an art form is viewable all throughout the world; however, what is visible on campus is nothing like art. 

In Jackson’s words, “There’s definitely a form of graffiti that can be art…but what we have on our campus is not art. It’s racial slurs, it’s symbols that aren’t appropriate and again profanity and there’s just not a place for that.” 

Students creating harmful tags around campus does nothing but make school a negative environment. Programs around the school like the Art Club can help those who genuinely wish to express themselves, but that’s not the case with most students leaving tags around campus. All that comes from tags being created is wasted energy from custodians and the creation of high school being a toxic space for students.