Students are once again free to express their minds and artistic abilities.
The Rock reopened Wednesday, allowing students to decorate the iconic landmark after a hiatus that lasted about a month due to construction for the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center. The slab was fenced in to protect the landmark, and those wishing to paint it.
Since the Rock's inception at UT in 1966, students have used the boulder as a means to display their personal messages. From declarations of love, voicing political views, and birthday wishes, the boulder, which sits at the corner ofVolunteer Boulevard and Pat Head Summitt Street, has stood as a campus icon.
Nick Poma, freshman in business management, said the Rock was one of the reasons he ventured to UT.
"I chose here because of the Rock and the tradition," Poma said. "I love having the fact that it's a tradition and that anyone can come and write on it."
Though Poma only just started his college career, he said he plans to paint on the slab when baseball season begins.
Perhaps the most memorable moment at the Rock occurred when former UT football head coach Lane Kiffin left to coach at the University of Southern California after just one season in 2010.
Students and other UT fans expressed their disappointment and anger over the "betrayal" by painting harsh statements condemning Kiffin and burning mattresses.
"He left us. He abandoned us," Geena Huggins, senior in child and family studies, said. Despite her involvement in the event, she said painting on The Rock does more harm than good.
"I've always thought it was a biohazard," Higgins said. "I've never had the urge to paint it because of the paint going into the ground and causing harm to the environment. But I guess it's still a good form of self expression for students."