Stephen Ellison

Offensive Signs at San Francisco State Dorms Spark Debate

A debate is brewing at San Francisco State University over messages popping up on windows of residence halls that some considered vulgar and offensive.

While the vast majority of the so-called Post-it notes art is harmless, expressing sentiments about pizza, music or social media, some are sexually explicit, and that is troubling to students and faculty.

Some students have complained about signs that are sexually suggestive or scream out sexual acts or highlight vulgar terms.

"I was thinking I can’t bring my mom back here because she’s going to see all these windows and all the graphic pictures that they’ve drawn," said first-year student Lucy Garcete.

University officials said they’re listening to complaints and talking to students who post them, but so far, no rules have been broken. The administration said as deplorable as the messages might be, they don’t break the terms of the students' leases or the law.

"There is nothing punishable here," said Mary Ann Begley, dean of students. "We simply are having educational conversations. It is really important to us to make sure that we are responding but that the students understand ultimately that it is their choice and their decision at this time."

Begley said so far she’s received two complaints, one from a student and one from an employee.

"I think it does tend to cross the line when you get into more sexually charged things," said Lauren Taylor, a fourth-year student at SFSU.

First-year student Matt MacGugan had a different take.

"I think it’s more to catch attention than anything," he said. "I don’t think anyone means to be offensive by it. It’s just kind of an eye-grabber, and like, it’s a competition for which one is the funniest, I guess."

The SFSU administration said it welcomes comment on the issue and doesn’t want there to be a "hostile environment" for anyone.

Some faculty members said that’s exactly what it does create. They don’t want to see it, and they’re concerned it violates the student code of conduct.

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