Ceremony Gets UT Dallas Spirit Rock Tradition Rolling

April 16, 2008

Spirit Rock, an outlet for expression in the form of a large boulder, received its inaugural redecoration Tuesday afternoon during an informal ceremony with student leaders.

“Go Comets!” — the line expected to launch a thousand cans of paint — was one of many slogans scribbled in paint markers on the rock, which is centrally located on the grassy median between Green Hall and the Jonsson Building.

Other choices were Greek organization letters, “Whoosh” and a simple “The Rock Rocks.”

The brainchild of students who wanted to bring new traditions and points of pride to campus, it is modeled after similar rocks at universities across the country. Students are invited to paint an array of designs on the boulder, from pop art to marriage proposals to postings about current events.

“While school spirit is highly visual at sporting events, it can be lacking elsewhere,” said Ana Tavares, student body vice president. “I hope that in providing this new form of expression, we can help UT Dallas feel and look more personal. I truly believe the rock will be a tangible symbol for the creativity and involvement of our entire student body!”

As a relatively young university, UT Dallas is still in the process of building campus landmarks and traditions. Current rituals include rubbing Cecil Green’s head for good luck during finals week. Many students take pictures in front of the Love Jack.

Because of its central location, students and administrators also hope the rock will become a recreation spot and a unique stopping point during campus tours.

“The grassy area where the rock lives is shaded and comfortable, making it a great place to study or stop and chat with friends between classes,” said Donna Rogers, dean of students at the University. “We hope students will use the rock not only to promote their organizations and events, but that they also will take advantage of the opportunity to express their originality.”

Spirit Rock may eventually be replaced with a larger and more permanent boulder once a trial period is completed and students and administrators are sure of the rock’s popularity.

Students are expected to exercise good judgment when using Spirit Rock. Rules in accordance with chapter 46 of the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, “Speech, Expression and Assembly, Subchapter B – Prohibited Expression,” apply. If necessary, provisions may be added to the student code of conduct to deal with extreme cases of misuse, but the primary job of enforcing community standards for the rock will belong to the students themselves, Rogers added. Students are encouraged to visit the Spirit Rock Web page for guidelines about use.


Media contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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The Spirit Rock stood, unpainted for the last time, before its dedication outside Green Hall on Tuesday.

Students elsewhere have used spirit rocks to promote campus entertainment, team spirit, international days and breast cancer awareness. The rocks are from (clockwise, from upper left) Case Western University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Northwestern University and the University of Mary Washington.

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