Not quite what itàs chalked up to be, huh? LOL! graphic by Anna Johns

TU Hurricane Spotlight: the vaguely threatening chalk messages around campus

At this point in the semester, things usually seem eerily quiet as the storm of finals draws nearer. Recently, however, the presence of ominous chalk messages reveals the awakening of something dark.

Using chalk to advertise for club meetings has long been the norm for TU groups. A walk from Dietler Commons to the Student Union will likely garner at least three sighted advertisements: a specific STEM subject club’s meeting information, a church group offering a talk and a warning with your full name that predicts your time of death. These groups may differ in topic, but one thing’s the same — they all promise free pizza!

“We’ve been aware of the whole unspoken rule that, like, anyone can chalk anything at any time, and no one will stop you. No one has ever really acted on it, though,” says senior Trisha Lambert.

“Well, that’s except for when people were chalking anti-True Commitment vitriol, and Campo logged their information,” Lambert continues. “But now making a True Commitment reference to underclassmen who didn’t experience it is kind of like when someone brings up the Korean War at dinner and Grandpa goes silent and stares off into the distance with an unreadable expression on his face.”

The comparison’s a bit much, Lambert, but thrillingly acute.

This last month, the nature of some chalk drawings noticeably changed. Sure, we still saw the club promotions and the sometimes-nihilistic messages coming from the religious groups (“DOES GOD EXIST?” was a particularly excellent existential contender). Then, the threatening messages began.

Junior Computer Science major Josh Stanley bravely recounted his experience to the Collegian of when he was first targeted by the chalk. After just waking up and crawling out of bed, he, bleary-eyed, made his way to his 3 p.m. class and stopped in his tracks when he saw the message awaiting him near his building. The note read: “WATCH OUT, JOSH STANLEY: I’M GETTING HEAVIER, DENSER. ALSO, INVULNERABLE.”

“I wasn’t really scared because I’ve seen things like this before,” claims Josh Stanley. “Usually, in games, that’s the dev team’s use of the environment to aid story progression. Also, the note didn’t really mention anything too bad? It was ambiguously alarming at best.”

Another chalk targeted Psychology major Ashley Burnsdale. After listing her full Christian name, it warned, “’FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE’ IS IN THEATERS, AND PEOPLE WILL CELEBRATE IT AND J.K. ROWLING FOR GROUNDBREAKING LGBTQ REPRESENTATION.” After seeing that message in front of Lottie Jane, Burnsdale broke out into hives. All would shudder to pass it.

Slowly but surely, the sinister edge to the tone increased. The chalk, however, stopped calling out specific people and instead focused on a broadly evil approach.

One example includes the simple “42 DAYS” that would be crossed out and updated daily. The infamous long ass chalk message in front of the steps to McFarlin had read, “HI, HONEY. THIS IS YOUR MOM, HOPING YOU’LL WAKE UP SOON. YOU’VE BEEN IN A COMA FOR THREE YEARS, SWEETIE, AND THIS IS THE ONLY WAY YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS WILL ALLOW YOU TO HEAR ME.” And as a true display to thinking outside the medium, the forces behind the chalk duct-taped to the ground a poster of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the building shrouded by smoke, dark and depressing — as well as a chilling reminder of the evils caused by the Industrial Revolution.

For weeks, students begged TU to make some sort of statement about this malevolent presence on campus. As usual, it took four en masse email campaigns for TU to notice an issue with the student body. Campus Security then released a statement about the chalking, claiming that they could not find a culprit to the ominous chalk notes. Perhaps, they claimed, it could be everyone jumping in on a trend, but that wouldn’t be possible because all the chalking has an unnatural, bitterly welcoming glow. Also, Campus Security can’t really stop anyone from chalking because that might put the university in some hot constitutional rights waters.

Today, the notes continue but with decreased quantity. Because we have complained, our personalized messages from unseen, omnipresent forces of mystical evil have dwindled. Sure, they were menacing in an unclear kind of way, but it was nice to receive some attention.

Post Author: Anna Johns