Kent State sets rules for painting rock that’s served as public forum
The rock on Hilltop Drive just off East Main Street in Kent has served as a forum for open expression for decades.
“The rock comes from the 1930s on our campus. It has been an integral part of our campus for a long time, ”said Dr. Lamar Hylton, Vice President, Student Affairs, Kent State University. “It has always been painted by our student body for a variety of reasons and reasons.”
Students can keep painting the rock as they have been doing for over 80 years, but the university recently announced some rules for painting the rock.
“The policy is really to make sure we can keep it safe and that we can also make sure people are aware of the intended use of this longstanding piece of history on our campus,” Hylton said. “The directive itself is not intended to restrict or restrict freedom of expression.”
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Some of the rules for those interested in painting the rock are:
• “Every painting on the rock is preserved for at least 24 hours. Paintings should be dated and time stamped. Individuals and / or organizations are asked to document their finished paintings with a photo.
• The stone must be painted completely. Partially painting the rock or painting comments on a previously painted rock is not allowed. and
• Paintings that are obscene (that is, portray or describe sexual behavior in a manifestly offensive manner so that it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value), [are] Violations of the University’s policies on Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment … and / or aimed at encouraging or provoking imminent illegal activity can be removed or painted over at any time. “
Several controversial messages were painted on the rocks in September, and following those events, Tiera Moore, president of the student government, said some student groups were pushing for a policy for the rock.
She said the message painted on the rock that “blacks have no home here” was particularly offensive.
“That was the biggest boost for anyone who wanted to do something about it,” said Moore. “This language is simply unacceptable in every situation and in every place.”
Moore said she and other student leaders helped shape the policy that she hopes will at least prevent people from painting discriminatory or offensive messages on the rocks.
“I’m happy with the result,” said Moore. “I know where we started and what challenges we were facing. I think we all came together and got something satisfying. “
She also said security cameras installed from the rock this fall should help dissuade those from spreading messages of hate, harassment or discrimination from painting the rock.
Some of the rules are designed to limit conflict and therefore promote safety, Hylton said.
“We want to make sure it’s a complete painting and that people don’t have room to paint over or paint over additional messages that conflict with the first,” he said.
The rules also forbid “guarding”, which policy defines as “acting by a person to physically prevent or prevent others from painting the stone and / or disturbing others while they are painting the stone”.
Hylton said violations by Kent State students or employees would lead to discipline. The University also reserves the right to paint the stone at any time at the discretion of the Vice President for Student Affairs – that is, Hylton – or his agent.
Determining what is “obscene” or “blatantly offensive” or otherwise violates any discrimination or harassment rules will be group work that will most likely involve a faculty cadre, he added.
“Of course there would be a number of different employees who, as soon as we were made aware, would decide whether [a painting] follows the spirit and letter of the policy, ”he said, adding that law enforcement may be involved in cases where discrimination or harassment may have occurred. “It depends on whether what is being painted there is against the law or just against our university values.”
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at [email protected] or @bobgaetjens_rc.