ACU’s campus is filled with beauty from the GATA fountain and the landscaping to the colored-filled messages that take over the pavement, however the fate of chalk art on campus is uncertain after recent decisions.
Chalking has become a mainstream way for students to announce and communicate with their peers at ACU. Strolling across the private property, it is not uncommon to have your eyes overcome with a colorful creation of words, pictures or directional arrows.
One event where chalking has become part of the routine is Wildcat Week. During this week, students are overcome with messages of love and support, along with directions to the Bean, so they can be prepared to start their wildcat journey off right.
Sam Carter, former Wildcat Week student director, said the chalk adds an extra physical welcome for the students.
“The chalk just adds that extra spice of feeling like you’re literally walking into the welcome,” said Carter, senior engineering major from San Antonio. “Physically you have people that care enough to write these messages to you, and it’s like ‘they were expecting me to come here.’”
Chalking became popular on campus around 15 years ago when the university started to crack down on the number of posters allowed on the bulletin boards and other places around campus.
Kevin Campbell, senior vice president of operations, said the decluttering of the paper announcements helped the campus in the long run.
“It was cluttery and it was chaos,” Campbell said. “Some of that stems back to not trying to have so much chaos and trash because ultimately it going to end up on the ground. I think it’s been a great improvement not having the flyers hung around.”
The chalking culture of ACU is not a special one. Many other colleges have adopted this trend and have become successful with it.
With the crazy weather of Texas and the draining system of Abilene, chalking may not always have the big effect that the artist intends. Sometimes the once beautiful creations turn into a soupy rainbow swirl.
While the vulnerability of the art can become upsetting to the creator, it can come in handy for campus leaders to ensure the effectiveness of the messages.
ACU’s campus is private, meaning that chalking is a form of vandalism if not given permission or if the art is deemed inappropriate. For a student organization to be able to chalk they must call the Office of Student Life to get approval. Students in the past have been warned when allowed to chalk to use their best judgment.
When an inappropriate message is found on campus, it is flagged to the Office of Student Life which will designate someone to wash it off immediately. Carter said the delicacy of the water-chalk relationship comes in handy in instances like this.
“There are some students who think it is funny to draw inappropriate images and messages,” Carter said. “That’s the great thing about chalk, you just grab some water bottles, pour it on the chalk and smear it out.”
With complications in the past of chalking, PJ Martinez, vice president of student life, said the chalking process will be revised in student handbook.
PJ Martinez, vice president of student life, said the institutional uncertainty made this decision of the process.
“We want to look at this institutionally and physically,” Martinez said. “There has not been a set system for chalking or advertisement in the past. We want to see how we can define that process and make it considerate of all parties involved.”
Carter said not having chalk during Wildcat Week would disappointing. However, there are ways to keep the intent of the tradition alive.
“It would take away that little extra emphasis of welcoming that we really want to convey to the students,” Carter said.
As of now, chalk will stay a pastel staple on campus, but the future of colorful creations remain unknown.