In light of Candace Doane’s recent email to the student body, the discussions being had on Goucher Confessions, and word-of-mouth, I assume we are all aware by now that someone has been defecating on the stairs in Stimson. Some of us have not been so lucky as to hear about it, and had to discover this phenomenon the hard way – by nearly stepping in it.
It was around 10pm on a Sunday evening, and I was en route to the library to hammer out an annotated bibliography, telling myself I was only going to have one cup of coffee and go to bed no later than 3. Thundering down the Probst stairs, wrapped up in my thoughts, I absentmindedly dodged – but only by an inch or so – what I perceived to be a strange shadow near the bottom of the stairs. As my foot became level to it, and a specific odor reached my nose, it dawned on me that this was no shadow.
What I am asking you to imagine here is the stuff of satire, or someone’s novel study-abroad anecdote from their time in a third-world country. Stuff like this does not happen in real life, however. And yet, here it was, facing me on the Probst 1 stairwell. After “ew,” all I could think was, “Why?” And, “What are they trying to say?”
This is not an act of mere vandalism, after all. This is not a simple middle finger to the campus and administration, or at the very least not just that. Tearing down an exit sign is nearly effortless and takes only a moment (though I would not know from experience). Writing one’s name on a wall or the side of a building also takes only a moment, and produces a sense of satisfaction – “I was here,” and we take pride in our names, in our writing and graffiti, which, while vandalism to some, can be art to others. The situation in Stimson is not like that, however. While some may take pride in their graffiti, presumably no one takes pride in their scat. At least not enough pride to put it on display.
As repugnant as these incidents are, and while I am very interested in seeing this person be brought to justice, I am also asking us as members of this community to approach this incident critically. Somebody in our community took the time to execute this, at risk of getting caught, and complete the job from start to finish. As far as nonviolent acts of vandalism go, this is about as violent as it could possibly get. It is definitively political, and that should not be forgotten. This sort of thing simply does not happen, and so in the interest of a fuller understanding of the world, and in light of the fact that it did in fact happen, we owe it to ourselves as a community not simply to try and eradicate this behavior, but also to actually consider it in the first place. That means to take on the unappealing task of fully processing that this has happened multiple times, overcome our anger about it, and consider this intellectually. Therefore, whatever conditions led this person to feel that defecating on the stairs was necessary can be looked at and dealt with. In other words, if this is a discourse, what is being said? This is something I would like us to think about, because I personally have no idea.