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For the last couple of years, there has been a movement at Weber State University to put a permanent large ‘W’ on the side of the mountain above campus.
This has resulted in a debate that has occurred primarily in the student senate, where the idea has been tossed around and some potential solutions discussed.
Many other universities across Utah have large monograms stamped on the prominent hills above their campuses. Brigham Young University, in particular, is known for the large ‘Y’ on the mountain by its campus. Former WSU Student Association president Kyle Braithwaite led the charge to set up a monogram last year. The advocacy has continued on despite Braithwaite’s departure. However, the many attempts to put a large ‘W’ monogram for WSU have been thwarted.
“We’ve talked about it a couple of times, but the answer we’ve always gotten is no,” said Amy Pittman, the Asian-American student senator for WSU. “They won’t let us put a ‘W’ on there because it will harm the environment.”
The land on the side of the mountain where any letter could be put is part of federal land. As such, federal environmental protection laws under the National Environmental Policy Act prohibit a cement structure of that size being put on the federally protected land.
It has been suggested that a giant “living” ‘W’ therefore be created from natural brush or trees, but these ideas have also not gone anywhere.
“This year, nothing more is going to happen,” said A.J. White, the College of Science student senator. “I haven’t spoken to the president, but that is the impression that I got.”
Pittman said other schools have their letters because they moved more quickly to put them in place.
“The reason for those is because they were put up there before the act was put in place,” she said. “That’s why we have the rock between the union and the Browning Center.”
The rock Pittman referred to is the large ‘W’ monument that was placed in the plaza between the Shepherd Union Building and the Browning Center. While the monument marks the 100th anniversary of the bookstore and adds to the aesthetic appeal of campus, according to its proponents, it is also seen as a replacement for a monument on the mountain.
“We figured if we couldn’t put one on the mountain, we could bring one to us,” Pittman said.
Still, some at WSU would prefer to have the kind of mountain monogram that other universities have. White said it was hard to take one side or the other on this issues.
“I think it’s good to have school spirit and have it on the mountain, but I also agree that you want to preserve the environment,” he said. “It would be nice to have something that’s sustainable that students can see.”
For now, WSU does set up electric lights on the side of the mountain to create the outline of a ‘W’ during special occasions.