Students seek help following exposure to thousands of smiling faces on walls
“I just feel like I can’t ever get away from them,” said Jasmine MacDonald, a second-year student at the University of Ottawa, as she looked over the wall of faces at the top of the staircase in Morisset.
MacDonald is just one of many U of O students who are growing exceedingly anxious every day with the continuous posting of images of faces all over campus. The posting is the second of two epidemics that have plagued the university since the start of the school year, and is “a serious problem that could have serious effects on students’ health,” according to Arlene Doolittle, a professor of psychology at the U of O.
“The problem seems to start off with one or two students yearning for the need to have their faces seen by everyone,” said Doolittle. “But the epidemic is extremely contagious to those who have strong A-type personalities, and that is why we have seen groups of students now come together in groups to post their faces all over walls and railings.”
Doolittle warned that the problem can become so bad that as wall space becomes increasingly competitive, someone with this disease may end up “posting his or her own face several times on the same space.”
This epidemic can have serious implications for those students who feel no inclination to act this way.
“I have seen many reduced to tears,” said guidance counsellor Anna Babel. “I’ve had to write hundreds of excuse letters to professors because of the faces.”
“Honestly, it’s upsetting,” said third-year student Justin Grenade, as she held back tears. “I’ve seen enough close-ups of foreheads and teeth to last a lifetime.”
“The faces look so happy, but I know they can’t possibly be,” he said, looking up at a wall in the UCU completely covered with smiling faces. Grenade then began to itch the inside of his elbow, a tick he said he has developed since the faces went up.
On the other side of things are those putting up the posters, who seem to be just as helpless.
“I can’t stop,” said one student, who has been trying to beat the picture-posting disease throughout her entire seven-year university career. “I try so hard, but every year I find myself printing hundreds of copies of my pictures and taping them to any surface students will see. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, think of a building I haven’t hit yet, and feel compelled to go before daybreak.”
Experts say something must be done to stop this phenomenon that is affecting so many students. But what can be done? And who will do it?
“I encourage anyone who is struggling with this to seek medical attention and to notify their guidance counsellor and professors,” said Babel. The only way for people to overcome this condition is to speak at length about the symptoms they are experiencing and how those symptoms are affecting their daily lives.”
Though this epidemic is very serious, it comes and goes only once or twice a year without seriously affecting more than 10 per cent of students. The U of O community can only hope that one day, this cycle of regret and paper waste will come to an end.
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