UConn rock guidelines updated after fall semester incidents


The University of Connecticut rock by North Garage was repainted twice this week with messages referencing last week’s Atlanta spa shootings.  

Spirit Rock, one of three paintable rocks at UConn, currently reads “Stop Asian Hate” on one side and “Black Lives Matter”. The rock, now located outside of North Parking Garage boasts thousands of layers of paint, with the earliest ones dating back to the late 1940s. Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

In the beginning of the week, the rock was painted with one side saying “All Asian Lives Matter” and the other side keeping the pre-existing “All Black Lives Matter.” It was later repainted to say “Stop Asian Hate.”  

Stephanie Reitz, university spokesperson, said the UConn rock painting policy permits free expression, only if it is painted by actively enrolled UConn students and UConn registered student organizations.  

The rock painting policy was updated on Nov. 1, 2020 after incidents during the fall 2020 semester in which non-UConn students altered the messages on the rock. The Daily Campus previously reported that someone who did not belong to the UConn community altered the rock to say “All Lives Matter” in September.  

According to the updated policy, non-UConn students, such as faculty, staff, administrators, donors and visitors are not permitted to paint the three paintable rocks. If they do so, it may be considered defacement of public property. 

For UConn students, they may use the rock as a “vehicle for expression,” including free expression of ideas and opinions. They must express their ideas in a respectful manner.   

Reitz said the policy does allow students and student organizations to paint political issues.  

“As the policy states, the University supports the free expression of ideas, which includes issues of a controversial nature,” Reitz said. “The language is intended to remind students that they are part of a community and should be respectful of their fellow students and also that their actions must be consistent with existing University policies.”  

The only paintable rocks located on UConn property are “The Rock” by North Garage, “Towers Rocks” at the bottom of the walkway to Towers Quadrangle and “Buckley/Shippee Rock” on the south side of the road leading to the Buckley/Shippee parking lot, according to the updated policy.  

The updated policy outlines that UConn will have signage by the three paintable rocks stating their support of student expression and painting expectations. The policy will be enforced by the Division of Student Affairs, University law enforcement personnel and the students of the University of Connecticut.  

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