Chalk it up as art

Varied, atheist sayings pepper campus Monday

By Jessica Sunday & Jessica Saggio

Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cracked pavement and sun-bleached concrete weren't all that UCF students walked over last Monday while on campus.

Colorful - but not illegal, according to campus police - sidewalk graffiti featuring radical statements covered the sidewalks all over campus, under the footsteps of students scurrying to and from classes.

Quotes from the Bible, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and others emblazoned walls and pathways, along with other seemingly atheist written statements. Although the pale-colored statements looked like harmless announcements, the words blasted organized religion.

"The only difference between God and Adolf Hitler is that God is more proficient at genocide," read one of the statements, attracting smirks and frowns from students congregating outside of Classroom Building One.

The words elicited a plethora of emotions, ranging from apathy, to anger, to humor - not to mention an overwhelming amount of attention.

"I thought it was hilarious," Danielle Francis, a member of the Campus Freethought Alliance, said.

Some students initially said they thought some Christian organization had done the dirty deed of preaching from the pavement.

"It makes me think that whoever did it, was confused, like some sort of radical Christian group maybe," said Tony Box, a biology major, who stopped to read the quote from Falwell on the ground by the Reflection Pond.

Still, with such anti-religious statements, it would be hard to believe that a Christian organization would be behind the scribbled outbursts.

After deliberating the possible source, Box said, "If it were an atheist group, it would be just as bad as if a Christian group did it because then they would be trying to make people think that Christians did it."

The Campus Freethought Alliance, the self-described group of free thinkers and skeptics on campus, denied having anything to do with the chalking.

"I can speak on behalf of the CFA when I say that our club had nothing to do with [the graffiti]," Ken Swan, vice president of CFA, said.

"A lot of it [the graffiti] kind of seems to contradict itself, so it's kind of a mixed statement," said Monica Hill, a Community Service Officer who helped the UCF Police Department respond to the call.

The chalk writings were promptly removed from campus by a water-pressure truck after the Work Management Center became aware of its existence Monday afternoon.

"No one needs to see that," Tim Newman, the superintendent of Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance, said.

The writings were not only discovered on the grounds across campus, but at 7:30 a.m. a Student Union worker discovered what he called hateful quotes on the walls of the building itself, according to Suzi Halpin, the director of the Student Union.

"The cleaning man wiped it off immediately once he saw it. We will steam-clean the brick later this afternoon," Halpin said.

Cleaning the walls takes about two hours and costs the Student Union $10 per hour.

"Typically, students use graffiti to advertise special events or meetings. There is usually no malicious intent like this," Halpin said.

A giant circle with a cross in the middle covered with a slash running through it stared up at students from one of the Pegasus Landing loading docks near the Student Union as well.

"I thought it was all so stupid," Andrew Carmichael, a member of CFA, said. "The bad parts of the Bible are taken literally and as a form to justify their hatred."

However, the question of why the statements were written still remains up in the air.

"I think they are doing this to spread the word," said Joseph Land, a student who examined the quotes outside of Classroom Building One. "I think they are getting their point across in an effective way. They are showing you the parts of the Bible [the church] doesn't want you to see and are trying to make you see life at a face value and to question the world around you."

Regardless of the motivations, UCFPD is not conducting an investigation into the graffiti.

"Now, if they had done it with something permanent where they etched it into the concrete, we would have investigated," Cpl. James Roop, spokesman for UCF PD, said. "But if it's chalk, it's not a crime"

Roop added that paint would qualify as a crime because of how hard it is to remove.

Without an investigation, though, catching the instigators is not likely at this point.

However, if the student or group of students are caught, the police department would turn them over to the Office of Student Conduct.

The chalk graffiti could come under the jurisdiction of the Golden Rule, which states that students found to be defacing or destroying university property could be subject to civil prosecution or academic discipline.

The culprits could also face charges from the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities to determine further prosecution, such as possible academic probation, suspension or expulsion.

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