Protesting in the ‘Can’

As it is reported in the media, presidential disapproval is increasing and concerns about the Iraq War grow. I have often wondered how much of this anti-Bush sentiment exists in my generation and college age adults, and what is being done to vocally demonstrate anti-war beliefs? I can only speak of first-hand experience from the University of Miami campus and information I gather through the Internet, television, or my Newsweek subscription.

Unlike in Washington, there has been no picketing or protesting here on campus in Coral Gables. There are no anti-war tables staking a claim in the breezeway. The topic of conversation is usually not the state of our country. I had a bumper sticker that said, “January 20, 2009-The End of An Error,” until it faded, and I removed it. I had some anti-war pins on my backpack last year until they either fell off or were pilfered.

Recently I have found a cry for anti-war protest from UM male citizens in an unlikely place: the men’s bathrooms around the UM campus. Urinal and toilet stalls have long been the canvas for verbal epithets about mothers, sexual pleasures, good times, who to call for a good time, and male genitalia, but now I’ve noticed a sixth category: political protesting.

Phrases such as “Bush lied,” “War sucks,” and, “Peace is the answer,” can be seen in UM men’s bathrooms like the one in the UC and the one next to Starbucks. Why have people chosen the public toilet as the venue to voice opinions, especially since only the male population will ever read it? I have to hope the women are as politically active. Since I never visit the women’s facility, I hope someone writes in to enlighten us. Anyway, It appears we have little time in our increasingly busy lives to organize a protest or a display table in the UC breezeway. But during this rare moment in the day of five minutes of relaxation, it appears that some male students take the opportunity to do something we wish we had more time to do: protest our current political and military displeasures.

The fact remains that there is an increasing public outcry throughout many age levels against the president and his leading our country into war on what appears to be more than increasing suspicions of false pretenses. We all express our feelings in different ways. As long as one can offer one’s opinion publicly, it does not matter the venue. Keep in mind that political graffiti was a staple of ancient Rome and was put up everywhere.

We are in a time of uncertainty, with many of our questions either unanswered or answered with the current solution of deploying additional troops. Maybe the bathroom protestors have the best method of voicing this concern. A ballpoint pen or permanent marker can leave an imprint that lasts until it is painted over or the building is destroyed, but the potential exists for the writing to last for an exceedingly long time. A well-placed phrase of “Bush is the devil” (an actual piece of toilet graffiti) can be seen by hundreds of people in a given week. For the work of one to affect such a large group of people is a very powerful way and non-violent way to voice disagreement.

With each passing day, and more Iraqi citizens and coalition forces killed and wounded, the concern grows about the escalating violence. So far, presidential candidate Barack Obama is the only one to provide us with a solution to the Iraq War, a solution that will have all American troops redeployed by March of 2008. Obama was also against the war from its inception.

Will we see demonstrations like the US saw during the Vietnam era? I hope our current political and military situation does not reach a point to necessitate such outcry, but if our country must, we will take our fight from the bathroom stalls to the streets and hopefully into the halls of Congress and the Oval Office.

Sam Rega is a junior majoring in motion pictures and philosophy. He may be contacted at