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In an effort to maintain the quality and beauty of our campus, UT Facilities Services and UT Police are asking for your help with wiping out graffiti.

While graffiti is not a new or unheard-of occurrence on campus, Facilities Services crews and UTPD are reporting a disturbing increase in the number of “tags” during the past few weeks.

Painted graffiti tags are not only an eyesore on campus and costly to remove, but they can also cause permanent damage to UT buildings, explains Facilities Operations Director Bob Caudill.

It takes facilities crews about two hours to remove each new tag that appears on campus. The graffiti is first scrubbed with a special solvent two or three times before it is power washed with heated water.

UT Facilities Services employee Bill Mills cleans graffiti from a university building.
UT Facilities Services employee Bill Mills cleans graffiti from a university building.

This removal process is a costly one. In 2013, more than $27,000 was spent addressing graffiti removal on campus. In addition to aesthetic damages, paint used for graffiti can cause further damage to the structural surfaces, resulting in fractures.

Even with power washing and solvents, some tags are very difficult to remove. This results in a faded image where the paint has soaked into the pores of a concrete wall.

“If we continue trying to remove graffiti, getting more aggressive with each try, we end up damaging the wall surface,” said Caudill. “At the very least this leaves part of the wall permanently a different texture and color.”

Vandalism is a misdemeanor offense for which offenders will be prosecuted.

“Graffiti is created to be seen by others, so the best thing you can do if you see graffiti on university property is to report it, document it, and then clean it up thoroughly and immediately,” said Chief Troy Lane.

Tennessee law states “Any person who knowingly causes damage to or the destruction of any real or personal property of another or of the state, the United States, any county, city, or town knowing that the person does not have the owner’s effective consent is guilty of an offense under (Offenses Against Property).”

All faculty and staff can help combat the problem by reporting new tags or any suspicious activities to police immediately by calling 865-974-3114. You can also share information anonymously through Tip411. To send an anonymous tip via text message, text the keyword UTPD and your message to 847411 (tip411).


Brooke Stevenson (