By Laura McDonough and Marah Morrison
The large painted boulder on the campus core behind Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University is called Tradition Rock. It was left at the request of Student Council and Paul Gregory during the construction of Kilcawley in 1965.
Brian Brennan, library operations supervisor at Maag Library, searched the archives at Maag for information about the rock.
News Editor Sue Knapic wrote in the May 23, 1988 edition of The Jambar that in 1965, the campus core was a gravel parking lot. When the Kilcawley men’s dorm was being excavated, construction workers found a large piece of limestone which was set aside until construction was completed.
Ben Havek wrote in the March 7, 1967 edition of The Jambar about the rock being neglected.
“This monument to tradition has seen neither a drop of paint nor the head of a chisel. We have cheated this rock. We have bestowed upon it the greatest humiliation that any campus rock could ever receive. We have ignored it. Already a year and a half has passed and nobody has loved it, loathed it, or written editorials about it,” Havek wrote.
Sometime between 1967 and 1975 sororities and fraternities started painting the rock.
In 1968 the rock was painted black after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
In 1974 the Board of Trustees wanted to remove the rock from campus completely because students were starting to paint, not only on the rock, but on Kilcawley Center.
In 1975 there was talk about moving the rock behind Beeghly Center, but Bill Brown, president of Student Council, fought to keep the rock on campus core. He won and the rock was moved from its location near Kilcawley house to where it sits now.
In 1979 it was written that being allowed to paint the rock cost students $300 every two years, because facilities had to sandblast the area around it to remove paint on the area surrounding the rock every two years.
In 1980 a student wrote a letter to the editor to The Jambar suggesting “perhaps these senseless painting orgies should stop and nature allowed to reclaim its own.”
Carolyn Jesko, assistant director for programming, said the current status of Tradition Rock is to serve as a free speech place on campus for students, and YSU has no actual policy in regards to painting it.
Erin Driscoll, director of student activities and Greek life at YSU, said Tradition Rock is a great place for students to share what is important to them, whether it’s promoting an event, wishing people good luck with finals or welcoming new students to campus.
“It’s been a neat tradition on our campus for students to be able to share their thoughts, sentiments and what’s important to them, and our campus,” Driscoll said.
To take from the 1988 Jambar article, which took from a writer in 1968, “In the years to come, most of us will have graduated and gone our separate ways, but the rock will stay as a symbol of YSU, wearing the colors of organizations and expressing the random thoughts of the students.”