A sudden repainting of the Stood’s once-cluttered bathrooms has elicited discontented reactions from the campus community.
By Barbara Kay
Robyn Graygor (far left) with her friend Hennessey (near left) in the Stood Bathrooms before being repainted. (Photo by Robyn Graygor)
The already graffitied repainted bathroom walls. (Photo by Barbara Kay)
Are you even a Purchase student if you don’t have a picture of you and your friends in the Stood bathroom? Well, this semester, those Instagram moments got a lot more boring when years of student graffiti were erased by a thick coating of hospital-beige paint.
Over the summer, Facilities painted over the student artwork that littered the bathroom walls of the Stood, the student center behind the Humanities Building. This drab makeover has been met bitterly both by Stood staff, who say they didn’t know this was being done, and by the students who have had their artwork erased.
“I didn’t know it was going to happen. It was the facility's decision, not ours,” said Yuta Kawamura, a sophomore mathematics/computer science and economics major who is, as of Sept. 20, the former Student Activities Coordinator. “It’s our place, where the students run it. It’s our territory.”
Students originally speculated that the paint job was done because the artwork was too crude for a children’s summer camp that was occupying the Stood. Lukas Gunderson, the Assistant Director of Quality Insurance, said that this was not the case; instead, it was a measure that, in the past, should’ve been regularly taken.
“In general, bathroom painting is on a rotating schedule to address items such as staining, deterioration, etc. as well as providing protection for the sheetrock, which is especially important in a setting with multiple plumbing fixtures and resulting humidity,” Gunderson said via email. “Bathrooms found in other areas of the campus are painted on an ongoing basis with much greater frequency to adhere to these guidelines. However, the Stood did not have a strict timeline in place on the Facilities side as the space was, for the most part, monitored and addressed by student employees pre-COVID.”
Stood staff say that the paint job itself was poorly done, and that they believe a better color could’ve been picked.
“The Students Activities Board wasn’t consulted about repainting it,” said Sarah Lustig, the Stood Maintenance Coordinator.
Gunderson said that he was “involved in various conversations with former and current Stood and PSGA [Purchase Student Government Association] members as appropriate.”
“Facilities agreed it’s terrible. I want to repaint it again because they did such a terrible job,” Lustig said. “I want to strip it and repaint it a blue, or a nice red. We didn’t plan on painting the bathroom at all before this.”
Jack Worrell, last year’s Stood technician, said that the job was so poorly done that “the light switches were just painted over and had to have the paint chipped off of them for the lights to be turned on and off.”
“To preface, the bathrooms, and much of the Stood, were maintained by student employees and volunteers in years’ past,” said Gunderson. “As the bathrooms were addressed with less preparation than our team may otherwise take for painting projects, this led to concerns such as paint drip, over-painting, mismatches in color, paint over dryers, switches, bathroom separators, etc. Because of these underlying issues when our team went to refresh the paint, imperfections were found throughout and became noticeable, which anybody within our team would not find satisfactory as a ‘final result.’”
He continued, “I personally have indicated this dissatisfaction with the outcome to certain parties on-campus…Again this dissatisfaction lies with the underlying condition of the space as opposed to any work that our painters performed. As far as steps to provide a better presentation in these spaces, our team is reviewing with SAF [Student Affairs], and based upon these conversations, with STOOD staff, some possibilities for long-term upgrades. In the interim, it appears that these rooms have already begun being drawn on, and in some spaces, the paint being shaved off, by members of the community.”
Students agreed with Stood staff members that the beige color was an unfortunate choice, and that it was also disrespectful to have been done in the first place, as this is an arts school.
“I feel like as a VA [visual arts] student, you’re erasing student work that was permitted to be there, so it feels like they’re erasing our work,” said Cassidy Alleyne, a sophomore painting and drawing major.
“I think compared to the outside of the Stood that’s bright and covered in student work… the beige feels like a joke,” agreed Lee Albino, a junior graphic design student.
While students and Stood staff alike have been disappointed by the space’s unexpected new look, it may not take long for the bathrooms to revert to their previous state. Despite how recently they were repainted, the walls are already amassing a new collection of student graffiti. In true Purchase fashion, even the most gloomy paint job can’t stop new artwork from emerging.