Attack on Thumbtacks

For the UAS Whalesong
Many of you may be aware that there has been a recent change in housing rules and regulations, about which housing residents were summoned to a mandatory meeting a few weeks ago. The changes discussed were mostly little things – a reference to the new smoke-free status of campus and housing, a brief reminder not to drink in under-21 apartments, a plea for students to refrain from doing drugs and partaking of other illegal substances, and intimations that shouting profanities from the windows of your domicile would be frowned upon. But one of the new changes was met with immediate murmurs of dissent – the use of thumbtacks, for reasons at the time unknown (but which I will explain later in this article), is now forbidden.
While I personally was upset by this announcement and immediately wanted to write an article about it, I also wanted to use my position as a reporter to sound out local opinion and, well, report on it. So I did an informal poll of numerous students, asking what they thought about the new “no tacks” policy. Every single student disapproved, and was supportive of me writing an article to bring the matter to light.
Having made it clear that a not-insignificant portion of the student housing population is upset about this new rule, I understand that it is assumed students will turn to other methods of hanging up their wall decorations apart from the usage of tacks. Alternatives do exist: Scotch and painter’s tape, 3M adhesive strips, poster putty, and command hooks have all been suggested. That being said, when I first moved into housing, I thought that tacks were not allowed to begin with, and tried most of these alternatives my freshman year. I can therefore issue the following arguments against their respective effectiveness. Tape only works on very thin, light paper – printer paper, essentially, which is not what most posters are made out of. Double-sided tape just won’t keep a poster on your wall, and if you tape over the corners, you will never get the tape off your poster without ripping it up – and there’s no guarantee that it will work. Putty is also not very effective; in my experience, it keeps posters up for about a day before losing its cling and causing them to tumble down in the middle of the night and give you that special kind of heart attack that only the sound of wobbling laminate in pitch darkness can give you. And neither tape nor putty will do anything to keep up string lights – an essential part of the college experience. Which brings me to the matter of command hooks. These are those plastic bathroom-type hooks, the backs of which you can peel off and stick to walls. I have seen these removed before, and though they claim to leave walls untouched, guess what comes with them when you peel them off? That’s right – the paint.
Now, I understand that housing is attempting to minimize damage to their buildings by limiting the amount of holes in the walls. I received a statement from the housing department to that exact effect – if residents don’t use tacks, there will be no holes to repair, allowing housing to focus on “cleaning units and conducting preventative maintenance,” according to the statement. This is a perfectly  reasonable and acceptable  argument; however, I think that it’s important to recognize two points.
First, tack holes are barely noticeable. Second, while I can’t speak to Banfield since I never lived there, every apartment I’ve lived in or visited on housing has had tacks in it because of this. This means that the holes are already there, and since the extremely minimal damage (such that it is) has already been done, I fail to see the point of enforcing a rule that is highly inconvenient and inefficient for so many students who live on housing. This rule would make more sense if housing had already put in considerable time and effort to fix the existing tack holes; however, as far as I can tell, this is not the case. Admittedly, I could be wrong – but again, I have visited several housing apartments this semester alone, and all of them – including the one I live in – have pre-existing tack holes in the walls.
Now, as stringently as I and many of my fellow housing residents are opposed to this new rule, I am willing to offer a solution! If housing is truly so vehemently against the use of tacks, I think that at the least, a fair compromise would be for them to change the rules to this: students can use thumbtacks in their places of residence, as long as they fix the holes with putty or something before they move out. Personally, I am willing to put in that effort, as long as it means I am left to hang up my posters in peace. In addition, this modification to the rule would be a matter as simple as including it in the list of cleaning tasks that are to be completed before resident move-out.
I believe that UAS students who live on housing do take great pride in their places of residence, as well as great pains to keep from causing damage to those residences. I can honestly say that a lot of students, including myself, are upset about this change in policy, and we would really like to see something be done about it. This is not a personal opinion piece intended to raise hackles; it’s an attempt to get the  feelings of myself and my fellow students displayed in a public forum where those feelings can be taken notice of. Again, while my interviews were informal and response ranged from “dislike” to “irate jokes about Hunger Games-style rebellion,” the response was entirely negative: none of the housing residents I spoke to were okay with the new rule. In fact, I spoke to some visiting parents as well who were also frustrated with it. And I’m sure there are more students who I didn’t speak with who also disagree.
If you have a different opinion on this matter, if you totally agree and would like to tell me so, or if you just want to get in contact with me and discuss this matter further, I can be reached at! I look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a Reply