Peeling back the paint

Carrie Petrick

Glacial rock acts as canvas, advertising for student organizations

Legal graffiti on the rock located on Front Campus gives on- and off-campus organizations a chance to express themselves throughout the year.

Credit: Andrew popik

Carrie Petrick

Daily Kent Stater

If you scrape off each layer of paint to get to the rock on front campus, it’s only the size of a dime.

Just kidding.

It’s hard to tell how many layers of paint are actually on the rock, which is visible from East Main Street, because it looks as if the rain has melted the layers of paint together. A thick paint puddle has formed below it from years of doodling.

The rock looks out of place — and it is, said Donald Palmer, chairman of the geology department. It is a glacial erratic and is not affected by the paint.

“It was one of the big rocks carried to our area when the glaciers of the ice ages moved down into Ohio from Canada,” Palmer said.

The rock wasn’t put there by man — it was deposited between 15,000 to 20,000 years ago by a moving glacier, he said.

Palmer said the paint most likely does not add size or weight to the rock.

Jennifer Jonda, the outgoing Panhellenic Council president, said sororities and fraternities paint the rock with their letters and colors for special events.

“It’s kind of a playful thing to do,” she said.

Although Jonda was unsure of how long the rock has been a canvas for university organizations, she said she had seen pictures of the rock from the early 1990s when it was used for the same reason.

About a half a dozen Sigma Chi pledges use spray paint to express themselves on the rock. It was very cold, and the wind blew the spray paint into the air, creating a cloud of colored dust.

John Wetmore, a freshman Sigma Chi pledge member painting the rock, said it gets painted weekly and sometimes daily. The glacial erratic is painted more often during homecoming weekend. Sometimes the rock is painted every few hours, Wetmore said.

“When alumni come back, they fight for whose name is on the rock,” he said.

The rock has also been painted by faculty groups, children and university departments, Palmer said.

As for the paint used by the artists, spray paint seems to be the preferred medium.

Steve Riester, a freshman Sigma Chi pledge member painting the rock with Wetmore, said spray paint is used more often because it’s cheaper than regular paint.

Contact news correspondent Carrie Petrick at [email protected].