Roanoke College

The Rock

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Used as a source of advertisement for upcoming events, the Rock is one of the most debated traditions at Roanoke.

What started as a battle between graffiti artists and Building and Grounds personnel, the painting of the rock is currently a major source of information for ongoing campus events. Now, student organizations paint the ten-foot cement monument in front of Sections, the oldest residence hall on campus facing the Back Quad, to promote lectures, performances, sport events and theme weeks on campus.

Formerly known as the Obelisk, the Rock was built by John "Slick" Mulheren'71 so that the campus can have "something that students built instead of what the college built," according to him. The first attempt to build a monument was unsuccessful because the Dean of the college had it removed. After the first failure, Mulheren decided to build an even bigger construction with campus-wide participation. More than 300 students took part in the project, and the new monument was erected in one night. The Rock was originally dedicated to Edward A. Jackson, a janitor in Sections who was very well-respected by the students.

There are a lot of myths about the original purpose and making of the Rock. Some say that it was erected by students when kegs were banned from the campus. A keg of beer chained to the water pipes below is said to lie in the foundations of the cement monument, so that Roanoke can never be a dry campus. Another story claims that the obelisk was built in memory of the four students killed in Kent State University around that time. Other rumors say that 22 live bullets were mixed into the cement.

Click here to see a photo gallery of rock pictures.

View information on painting the rock.