Politics Play Out on the Rock

Photo Courtesy of Mackay Pierce

Article Written By Paige Stewart

The Rock has long been a template for projecting upcoming events. Standing tall on the backquad, it welcomes incoming classes, advertises admissions events, and promotes service initiatives. Recent grad- uate John Mulheren said in a statement online that sees the Rock as “something that students built instead of what the college built,” suggesting that it also carries signi – cance in discussions of the past.

Seniors William “Mackay” Pierce and Shannon Barter participated in a recent event that ignited some tension around this college tradition. Every year, members of the senior class sign up for the opportunity to write the number of remaining days until graduation on the Rock. The countdown be- gins when there are 100 days left of school. When the count reached 97 days, Barter and several friends, including Pierce, ven- tured out to the Rock to write her number, along with several political messages.

In light of recent political events, Barter and Pierce said they believed their time slot was a good opportunity to make the community aware not just of future events like graduation, but also of current ones affecting the nation. When the group nished the project around midnight, two faces of the wall read “97 days of resist” in reference to protesting against the Trump administration, “Water is Life” in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline signing, and “He will not divide us” to protest the Muslim ban and actions taken against other targeted groups. Another side of the rock was filled with hashtags including #blacklivesmatter and #ndapl (North Dakota Access Pipeline). The nal face read “Love Trumps Hate” in large letters.

Pierce heard about the counter-messages from Barter. He said that she woke up early the next morning, walked outside, and no- ticed that their inscriptions had been crossed out in black ink. Pierce says that he was not surprised that this was done. As an active member of the political arena on campus, he was not fazed by the protests and much less discouraged from future action. “If someone is uncomfortable, you’re probably saying the right thing,” he says.

When asked why he and his friends added political messages to the Rock, Pierce responded that the group wanted to remind people of everything that is currently hap- pening in the country. Barter adds that their goal is to promote discussion of these dif cult issues that the world currently faces. Both feel that they were ultimately successful in doing just that.