Painters must use common courtesy when covering the rock on Farm Lane with colors.
Late Thursday night, members of Culturas de las Razas Unidas painted a message to promote Hispanic Heritage Month on the rock. Early Friday morning, pledges of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity painted over their work.
Students need to have respect when painting the rock. The fraternity should have had more respect for a cultural event that happens only once a year. The fraternity pledges could have painted the rock at a later date.
Over the years, MSU has kept unspoken rules for the rock. Whether a group must stay at the rock until dawn or that the rock cannot be repainted within 24 hours is still left to individual interpretation, but the general intent of these rules mandates common courtesy.
The leaders of the fraternity seem to have done all they could to repair the situation. If any members went against the wishes of the fraternity they should be disciplined as they did not represent the organization very well.
CRU also tried to paint the rock in 1998 but sorority members painted over it and knocked over commemorative crosses during a Dia de los Muertos celebration - a religious holiday celebrated by the Chicano community.
If a student group is guarding the rock, other groups should leave them alone. MSU organizations should work together. They should have more respect for one another than to paint over a groups message when another groups members have been up all night.
There should be no confrontation at the rock about whose message will appear the following day. The rock is not going anywhere; in most cases an organization can have its moment in the spotlight at a later date.
Out of courtesy, students should allow a message to remain on the rock for 24 hours. It will take some of the excitement out of guarding the rock, but will prevent future misunderstandings.
Painting the rock is a privilege, not a right. At any time, the university could declare that painting the rock is defacing public property. By disrespecting each other, students are disrespecting this long-standing tradition. The rock belongs to every MSU student, and we should use it wisely.
Every student should be able to paint the rock and any message should be allowed on the rock, even if most students would disagree with it. The rock has become a public forum, and freedom of speech applies.
Racist, homophobic or otherwise demeaning messages should be discouraged. But the university cannot say that the thoughts of the MSU community are unacceptable, even those in bad taste. Both the painting procedure and the messages that are painted should remain in the hands of the students. Students should be mature enough to self-regulate and give each other a chance to display their messages, to choose messages that do not attack members of the community and not to paint over others messages prematurely.
By using proper rock etiquette, all students will have an opportunity to get their message out.