Statement and updates on the April 26 protest in the Main Quad
Multiple students have asked questions and communicated concerns about the incident, which involved spray chalking messages on the exterior walls and sidewalks of Building 10. Here, we provide an update.
In response to the incident, that evening the university released this statement:
“We are extremely disappointed by the actions of those who participated in defacing historic university buildings with chalk paint today. We believe this is not a way to make one’s point and not how we discuss disagreements within our community. While we acknowledge that a group of students did come back to help wash off the paint, this behavior runs counter to the spirit of respectful dialogue and is all the more surprising in that it occurred even as we have been engaged in substantive discussion with 36 Sports Strong to fully understand and explore their perspectives. We are currently assessing whether any permanent damage was done to the buildings and whether any violations occurred which would lead to disciplinary action that would be handled consistent with established university processes.”
Update on possible consequences. The Office of Community Standards is currently evaluating whether these actions are subject to disciplinary action. Because the Student Judicial Charter requires confidentiality for all conduct matters, we will not provide updates as to the outcome of these disciplinary considerations.
Update on the damage and the impact on members of our campus community. The chalked messages did not simply disappear when washed; the interaction of chalk and historic sandstone has posed a significant restoration challenge. It has taken four days since the incident to assess the full extent of the damage, and repair and remediation work continues. It remains to be determined whether some of the damage will be permanent. To date, it has required at a minimum 40 hours of maintenance worker labor, and it is anticipated that at least another 40 hours will be necessary to complete it. The students who used spray chalk may not have been aware that any substance applied to this historic sandstone represents a difficult cleaning challenge, but this is the impact of their actions. The burden of their decision to spray chalk the buildings is falling on workers.
A call for advocacy and protest that do not create undue burden. In recent years, there are numerous examples of student protests that carefully plan chalking that doesn’t result in the need for workers to clean up and repair the impacts, such as recent chalking about racial justice on Jane Stanford Way. Chalking buildings crosses a line of reasonableness and respect. We uphold the right of Stanford students to engage in peaceful protest and demonstration on campus within the bounds of university policy. Student political engagement, activism and protest are important forces of change for our university and society at large. Those who speak up do so with the goal of bettering our community. However, protest in the name of justice does not require defacing university buildings and should not create undue burden on the workers who care for our grounds and buildings, who are often the unseen members of our community and stalwarts of our campus operations. We are grateful for the workers’ labors to restore the Quad after this unfortunate incident.