“Devious licks” on JCU’s campus

We know that when vandalism happens there is a negative effect on the entire community. Unfortunately the actions of a few often have a visible impact within the facility.

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Solen Feyissa

A TikTok trend creates havoc on campus leading to everything from stolen soap dispensers to missing road signs.

By Laken Kincaid, John Carroll University

John Carroll University has been the subject of vandalism following the emergence of a TikTok trend called “devious licks.” The social media challenge revolves around students stealing items from campus grounds like soap/hand sanitizer dispensers, signs and other easily swiped objects. Then, users will document their thievery online with popular music and filters. With the rise of this craze, multiple items have been damaged or gone missing altogether particularly in residence halls.

This trend first started early September when user jugg4elias posted a video where he displayed multiple stolen face masks with the caption “a month into school absolutely devious lick. Should’ve brought a mask from home.” After that, multiple people began posting their own “devious licks” from their school including but not limited to direction signs, telephones and plumbing tools like pipes and full sinks. While it is impossible to know how many users participated in the trend in total, it is estimated that the hashtag #DeviousLick was used over 235 million times.

Now, the term “Devious Lick” and all acts of vandalism/thievery have been banned by TikTok. According to CNN, when the phrase is searched on the app, a message appears saying “no results found. This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines. Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok’s top priority. For more information, we invite you to review our Community Guidelines.

A myriad of schools, from middle school to college, are also strictly punishing those who steal or vandalize property especially while engaging with this trend. ABC 7 cited a multitude of school districts are sending warnings to both parents and students to discourage the willful destruction. Some are prosecuting the vandals criminally; in Bartow, Florida, a fifteen-year-old student has been arrested for prying soap dispensers off the bathroom wall. 23 WIFR stated multiple schools in “California, Texas, New York and even in some area schools” are also closing down their public restrooms in response to the trend.

At John Carroll, students are also vandalizing on behalf of the trend. Ray Flannery ‘22, senior resident assistant in Millor Hall, told The Carroll News that while vandalism happens every year, “this semester is particularly bad.”

“Items have been stolen from common spaces in the residence halls and decorations have been removed or relocated,” Flannery said. “In my building specifically, many instances of vandalism occur weekly. Some areas of the building are more prone to this than others, which is likely the case across campus.”

Multiple things have been stolen or damaged around JCU including door scanners to Pacelli, exit signs in Hamlin and Campion and a variety of floor decorations and safety signs in all residence halls. Metal signs in both the Belvoir and Dolan parking lots have also been snatched and may well be either disregarded or in a dorm on campus. Mass emails were sent out to students regarding the vandalism which promised that violators will face both disciplinary action and fines from the Residence Life office.

“We are all disappointed when vandalism happens in the residence halls,” said Brendan Dolan, the associate director of Residence Life for housing operations. “The vandalism we have seen so far this semester, while frustrating and unacceptable, is not inconsistent with behaviors we have seen in the past. The RAs and the Housekeeping/Facilities teams work hard to ensure that the residence halls are inviting and well maintained for our communities.

“We know that when vandalism happens there is a negative effect on the entire community. Unfortunately the actions of a few often have a visible impact within the facility. It is our policy to share with the directly impacted residential community when acts of vandalism occur in an effort to inform the community and seek information in identifying the potentially responsible parties.

“That being said, it is the responsibility of all community members to hold each other accountable and if you witness an act of vandalism to contact JCUPD, an RA, or to encourage the individual involved to come forward. Vandalism of any type is not acceptable or reflective of who we are as a residential community and we all must work together to address it.”

SRA Flannery said that he is hopeful that the trend will die out as the semester continues. “I don’t expect vandalism to cease altogether either because, sadly, some people impulsively treat common areas as their personal playgrounds,” he stated. “I just wish more people knew that someone always has to come in and clean up these messes and oftentimes that burden falls on fellow students, or undeserving workers just trying to do their job.”

Currently preventative measures like fines and conduct evaluations are in place for those found guilty of vandalism. Residence Life is also investigating instances where the culprit or culprits have not been found.

This story was originally published on The Carroll News on September 23, 2021.