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Mural Policy in Caltech Houses

Winter 2010 Revision - updated September, 2016

Mural Form - please read the policies below before submitting a mural form


The North and South Houses enjoy a valued environment of self‐expression through the creation of murals. Caltech seeks to promote students’ creativity while also protecting members of the Caltech community from offensive material and maintaining an attractive environment within the Houses. To this end, Caltech Housing, in consultation with the Student Housing Committee, is establishing this Mural Policy to clarify the guidelines for creating murals and to inform students about the procedures for dealing with offensive or otherwise unacceptable murals. It is expected that individual Houses will follow their own processes if a resident wishes to paint a mural or to request the removal of a mural. However, these processes cannot supersede the guidelines presented here or Caltech policies and procedures.

Mural Policy

It is the Institute’s policy that murals or anything that goes on the walls of Caltech’s resident Houses do not have offensive material, which includes images or language that reasonable persons would find offensive, that would reasonably interfere with other residents’ or guests’ enjoyment of the facilities, and/or that violate any of Caltech’s policies, including that for Non‐Discrimination or Unlawful Harassment. Examples of offensive material include images or language that are racist or sexist, or that are derogatory on the basis of national origin, disability, age, religion, or sexual orientation. Graffiti or anything else that makes the Houses look deteriorated or degraded is also not acceptable. Murals may be painted on doors with approval. All North House door frames will be white and there will be six inches of white surrounding the door frame. Bathroom doors shall not be painted. Ceilings must stay white to ensure adequate brightness in the Houses. Any mural approved and painted must bear the date created and be signed by the creator. This policy applies to the Student Houses. Murals may not be painted over electrical boxes, other utility panels or fire pull stations, etc.  Murals are not permitted in frosh rooms, in the Student Activities Center (SAC), Marks, Braun, Avery, Bechtel and the tunnels. Murals desired for Dining Rooms, Formal Lounges, Courtyards, and Entryways are discouraged and will only be considered under special circumstances. Mural procedures apply to residential room painting as well. If a residential room mural is approved, Housing will assess a fee to cover future painting to restore the room to the original condition. The fee will be assessed only once to the student who originally created the room mural. Housing will repaint the room mural at the end of each year unless the incoming resident requests that the room not be painted.

Putting Up a Mural

Students must consult with the Senior Director, Student Activities and Programs (henceforth SDSAP), Tom Mannion, to discuss the mural content before submitting a proposal. This consultation will be done by a designated member of the House (President or their designee). This consultation ensures that students do not devote their time to projects that will not be allowed. The SDSAP will then notify the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Operations (AVPSAO) Dimitris Sakellariou of their discussion. The final decision on murals will be made by the AVPSAO. Students are not to use spray paint because it can damage the walls. The Housing Office will make paint available to students who wish to create a mural. The cost of removing a mural is the responsibility of the House. Neither the Housing Office nor Student Life will bear the cost if it is put up without consultation or it differs from the submitted design in ways that make it inappropriate in Institute housing. Murals will be approved on a House‐to‐House basis, taking into consideration House specific issues. The Housing Office will catalog and photograph all murals.

Complaints Regarding Murals

These practices will apply to all murals in the student houses without regard to when or how they were created. Complaints about a mural may be made to any of the following: SDSAP, AVPSAO, the Housing Office, the Chair of the Student Housing Committee, the Chair of the InterHouse Committee (IHC), or the President of the House in question. When any of the above receives a complaint, he or she will notify all the others by email. If a student or guest is allocated a room that has a mural that is not wanted, that student should notify Housing so that appropriate action can be taken to rectify the situation.

For complaints requiring immediate attention (offensive material)

If the SDSAP determines that a mural or part of a mural is offensive, the Institute has the obligation to remove or cover it as soon as possible. Except in exceptional circumstances, the AVPSAO will contact the House President, RA, and IHC Chair in advance of taking action.

For complaints that the AVP’s determine do not require immediate attention

If the House disagrees with the request, the President of the House in question and the SDSAP will meet and attempt to reach an agreement on appropriate action. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the House President, AVPSAO, and SDSAP will meet with the Vice President for Student Affairs. Together they will make the final decision. No work will be done to remove the mural until a decision has been reached according to this process.

Remedying the Problem

In all cases where a mural or part(s) of a mural must be removed, the problem will be considered remedied when the wall and all other surfaces have been restored to their prior condition. No modifications to murals will be made except in accordance with these procedures.

Following action taken to remedy a problem

The Chairman of the Stewardship Committee will be notified of the problem and the steps taken to fix it, and the committee will then discuss the issue as soon as possible. If appropriate, the Committee will determine whether an individual, individuals, or the House in question will be financially responsible for action taken to remedy the problem. If there is a possible honor code violation, this may result in cases being brought before the Routing Committee. Violations of other institute policies such as Unlawful Harassment or Non Discrimination will be addressed as provided in those policies.