Vandalism or art project? (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Vandals damaged the Northwestern University Rock on May 27, chipping off thick layers of paint and leaving them scattered on the ground beside the Rock.  

The front of the Rock, which displayed the message “Free Palestine,” remained intact. Northwestern junior Margo Milanowski said when she first heard about the damage to the Rock via Twitter, she thought it was in response to the messages in support of Palestine. When Ms. Milanowski checked Twitter later that day, she read that the chipping of the Rock was a part of an art project, though this information remains unconfirmed, she said. 

In an email to the Evanston RoundTable, Northwestern spokesperson Jon Yates said the University is still trying to assess the situation. University police were notified, he said. 

The Northwestern Rock was brought to the campus in 1902 and became a water fountain. Students began vandalizing the Rock in the 1940s and, during the Vietnam War, they utilized it as a canvas to express political opinions. 

Since then, the Rock serves as a free speech board. Tradition dictates that students must guard it for 24 hours before painting their messages.

Regardless of what occurred on May 27, the individuals who chipped the rock left behind a mess. 

“They very clearly did not clean up after themselves if it was for an art project,” said Ms. Milanowski. “It was completely littered with debris.”

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...