Take Note of This!

Students at SF State decorate their dorm room windows with an unlikely medium.


(Joshua Carter / Xpress Magazine)

Locals recognize SF State for its diverse student population, gorgeous campus and history of activism. Even its buildings are packed with personality. If you’re ever walking through the student-housing sections of campus, look up —- you’ll be met by dorm windows decorated with colorful designs made entirely of sticky-notes, ranging anywhere from friendly greetings like “hi,” to more blunt messages like “SHUT TF UP” or “Bush did 9/11.”

There isn’t a dorm on campus that doesn’t have at least one window covered with sticky-notes from the inside. Some students make elaborate artworks out of sticky-notes instead of just words. Depictions of smiley faces, hearts, naked women and even more explicit images are proudly displayed for passersby to interpret. 

Grace Harpster, who works at the housing office on campus, is currently in her third semester at SF State. She has been seeing these sticky-note windows since she first started here.

“I feel like definitely in fall, like when people get settled in, there’s a lot more,” Harpster recalled. “Just because they’re probably excited.”

Despite the raunchy nature of some designs in the dorms, the art that students create and display from their windows is almost always protected under the university’s time, place and manner policy. According to Harpster, students take full advantage of their free speech rights.

“I’ve seen weird ones that are still there,” Harpster said with a laugh. “I remember last year there were boobs or something like that.”

There are even school-sanctioned window decorating contests, according to Alvin Navarro, a SF State RA.

“People do the themes, like pumpkin-themed — stuff like that,” she said.

However, SF State students are not unique in their use of office-supplies as an art medium. Georgia Tech, University of Maryland and Penn State all participate in these types of shenanigans. It seems to be a part of college culture.