Noticing sticky notes
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 01:03
Compliments are always a nice gesture.
Lately, I’ve noticed sticky notes placed in the women’s bathrooms around campus. Some were on the mirrors, others were stuck behind stall doors.
Throughout the past week, to appease my curiosity, I asked around and searched various buildings for more information regarding these sticky notes. At first, I didn’t think much about the message trying to reach me, but wondered why it was there in the first place.
As the week has gone on, I finally found the source and the reason behind the sticky notes. Here’s my thought process:
I asked Memorial Union staff if these notes had been found in the men’s bathrooms, but aside from a single typed note, it seemed compliments like, “Smile! You’re Gorgeous!” are an isolated phenomenon occurring primarily in the women’s restrooms.
Graffiti — which I wouldn’t necessarily consider these notes to be a form of, but for lack of a better category I will compare these notes with graffiti — isn’t always so uplifting.
In the majority of the bathrooms I visited, graffiti had been wiped down or was so faded I couldn’t make it out. When I did find graffiti, though, most of it was harmless.
“Let’s get serious about climate change,” and “Live long and prosper,” was written in a Kidder Hall stall.
In Moreland Hall, some graffiti instructed me to “have sex! (safely).”
Some of it was just a nice limerick: “Love is gentle, love is kind. If they aren’t loving you, GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE! (You have better things to find),” was written in Moreland Hall.
Some graffiti consisted of the same type of uplifting comments the sticky notes had been promoting: “You are beautiful. You are special. You are amazing, and everything you should be,” was written in Moreland Hall.
I can’t say much about the men’s restroom. Were I otherwise endowed I wouldn’t have qualms about investigating.
Still, these nice comments are graffiti. The women’s bathroom on the main floor of Moreland is old. Moreland was completed in 1917 and was originally the forestry building. I’m not sure if the bathrooms have ever been renovated, but currently those bathroom stall doors are considered “vintage.”
“Please stop writing in the bathroom. These are vintage doors and the graffiti is not appreciated,” reads a sign taped on the inside of the stall doors.
In comparison with this type of graffiti, I would much rather someone take advantage of sticky notes.
As far as I’ve seen, these sticky notes are only present in the Memorial Union. The MU staff are obligated to take down such sticky notes. Some staff members don’t particularly care one way or the other, while other staff members seem to despise the sticky notes — no matter, all MU staff have to take down the sticky notes if they see it.
I guess I feel “meh” about the whole thing. Sure, it’s nice to read pleasant compliments or silly poems while I pee. At the same time, after paying my dues and working in food service, I can completely understand how having to take down sticky notes day in and day out would be annoying. Because, if I didn’t, I wasn’t doing my job — and likewise for custodial crews all over campus.
The Memorial Union has rules about posters. For the most part, these posters are advertisements or activities organized by certain groups. For registered Oregon State students, reserving a spot on bulletin boards, the Commons windows or the wall near room 112 is free. You just have to ask.
If there was a proper, following-the-rules location in the MU for sticky notes, I’d think these spaces would be it. Though, after speaking with MU staff in the main office, there doesn’t seem to be a proper place for sticky notes. The staff seemed kind of baffled that I would even ask if those putting the sticky notes up had an option to do it the correct way. Guess not.
Cleanliness, when it comes down to it, is the biggest issue with putting the sticky notes up in the restrooms. There’s a certain way bathrooms are supposed to look. And there are certain cleanliness standards the MU in general has to follow.
Plus, if they started to allow these sticky notes, think about what else could be misused.
Clever organizations would stop reserving space for bulletin boards and instead scribble some stuff down on a sticky note and post them all over the bathroom stalls.
Pretty soon, anyone with a note, a pen and a sense of humor could leave notes like, “Your face looks like poo today.”
Which, something like this has already happened — and on one of the inspirational sticky notes I found. The sticky note from Milam Hall read, “You’re Beautiful,” and underneath it in a different pen and handwriting someone else wrote, “inside. Not out.” How lovely.
While I don’t love or hate the sticky notes one way or another, I think adding negative comments to them is inappropriate.
I wanted to find a pattern to what seemed to be sticky note madness. I thought maybe the notes had originated from the Memorial Union, so I searched the buildings in closest proximity of the MU and from there I expanded.
There was no pattern. Some buildings had them, some didn’t. I found them in the stalls at Weniger and on the mirrors at Gilkey. I didn’t find anything in Kelly Engineering or Gleeson Hall. I found them all over one of the Kidder Hall and Milam Hall restrooms but I didn’t find any in the Milne Computer Lab. Weird.