A blog from the desk of the University Archivist at Kent State University


 Kent State University Archives


Kent State Tradition: The "Rock"

Posted by [email protected] on August 31, 2015 at 12:30 AM


In an article printed in the Daily Kent Stater on January 25, 1979, the “Rock” made its first appearance in 1922. Cecil Bumphrey (a retired heating engineer) said, while on his way to classes at Kent High School, he noticed a few men prepping to bury the rock. The rock had previously been uncovered by a maintenance crew during a campus cleanup. A few moments later, he witnessed KSU President John McGilvery emerge from his office and tell the men, “they weren’t going to bury the rock.” The boulder was then moved in front of Moulton Hall. The rock remained in that location until it was transferred 100 feet from the street onto the grass in the mid-70s.

It was fraternities and sororities who first adopted the “Rock,” racing to paint their Greek letters to alert students of their presence on campus! But the rock belongs to no one, as it has become a bit of a “free for all” as student groups rush to cover it in eye-catching hues, while highlighting upcoming concerts, football games, to breast cancer awareness.

However, the “Rock” is not without controversy. It was covered in derogatory comments about Vietnam in 1968, anti-gay graffiti in 2001, offensive images targeted at Delta Lambda Phi sorority, and a swastika in the wake of a Black United Students led protest pertaining to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Yet the “Rock” will remain an important piece of Kent State history and tradition for many generations, serving as a symbol of unity, pride, protest, celebration and remembrance. I look forward to seeing the power of the “Rock” this year!


Categories: Traditions, Student Life

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1 Comment

Reply Emily Rose
1:33 AM on December 7, 2016 
In this article the Kent State students are rock and the tradition of Kent state i admire it