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Bathroom messages inspire hope in hard times

By Jasmine A. Willis
On February 13, 2013


I have always struggled to understand the "bathroom stall graffiti" phase. Like most things that seem to be exciting for everyone else, this one's lost on me.


I find myself asking questions like, "Can writing on a bathroom stall make a difference, and can it change someone's life? What happens when those words disappear?"


Starting in middle school I noticed the beginning of the phase. People would write that "they were here," or that they loved some boy or how they felt about a class.


Dane Cook has a hilarious skit about writing on bathroom stalls. In it, he refers to the angrier side of the fad. It shows a truthful aspect to bathroom stall graffiti and it was another reason why I never got into it myself.


Then, graffiti centered on Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old who killed himself, changed the way I saw writing on bathroom stalls.


I remember walking into the second floor bathroom in the Buffalo State College Classroom Building and seeing all these beautiful words written about this boy who died way too young.


That is when my opinion changed.


So can writing on a bathroom stall change someone's life? Does it really make a difference what you write?


I would say yes. We have really come around since I was in middle school, and I think even Dane Cook would agree if he saw our college bathrooms.


The old statements of, "I was here" and "this boy is hot," have not died off - they've simply faded and paved the way for a new form of therapy.


When I noticed those words about a boy none of us really knew, I saw humanity, beauty and art in writing on a bathroom stall. It has become more of a way to inspire, make you think and even give you something to believe in on your daily walks around campus.


If I was in college when 9/11 happened, I am sure I would've seen it then. When the horrible tragedy happened at Sandy Hook, I'm sure words were being written then on how to deal with this sad tragedy.  


In times of tragedy or things we don't understand, we turn to the bathroom stalls to get our feelings noted. I think it is safe to say we have come a long way. If we can continue to write things of comfort, beauty and even hope to our classmates and peers on a bathroom stall, we can change someone's life.


Things like, "You are beautiful," "Today is the day," "Just Believe," and even the occasional poem or love story I see written on the stalls on campus from time to time really make a difference.


Sometimes all you need to get through some horrific event, or even just a stressful day, is to go into a bathroom stall and be inspired. I noticed most of those words have disappeared now.


The bathroom stalls have been scrubbed somewhat clean and are now a new canvas. However, I still remember the day I walked into a bathroom stall and it changed everything. The words might be gone, but they left behind a really interesting point.


Can this be considered freedom of speech? Do we have the right to speak our thoughts in a bathroom stall? Maybe this is the only way some people think they can safely have their voices heard.


All I can say is that we have a great opportunity to keep on inspiring. Instead of anger or silly comments, we can say something that just might save a life, or at least get that person through the day with a smile on their face.


Jasmine Willis can be reached by email at

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