The Chronicle’s View

The cement Block U that sits on top of the mountain has been a symbol of the University of Utah for about a century.

But while the huge letter appears acceptable from the university campus, an up-close look makes it clear that its upkeep is less than satisfactory.

In addition to the weeds that make the monument an unpleasant sight to nearby residents, the Block U is also covered in graffiti. The scribblings, which include fraternity and sorority symbols, indicate that university students are responsible for most of the vandalism.

It’s hard to deny complaints from neighbors when no one takes responsibility for the Block U’s appearance.

The Student Alumni Association (SAA) is responsible for lighting the Block U, and the university Facilities Management sends maintenance crews down to quell specific complaints, but doesn’t go any further because it isn’t the department’s responsibility.

The SAA attempted to raise funds to install a fiber-optic lighting system that would be less susceptible to damage, but the effort was unsuccessful. It’s understandable that other charities were more appealing, and if the system was implemented, it would only have prevented broken lightbulbs. The graffiti and weeds would still be a problem.

Recently, the university sent a grounds crew to clean up the weeds, but there is no regularly scheduled maintenance for the Block U.

On Saturday, the SAA repainted the Block U and now plans to make painting the letter a yearly project. The SAA’s initiative to keep the Block U in presentable condition is a good start.

Hopefully, the university will also provide regular maintenance on the Block U. Periodically entering the grounds to pull weeds and clean off graffiti will prevent the accumulation of a big mess at every annual cleaning.

As is the case with most tasks, frequently ensuring that everything is in good condition will prevent more work later on.

Students should be aware that the Block U is viewed from closer distances and needs to be in a presentable condition all the time. If a university entity doesn’t take responsibility for the Block U, the students should make it their duty to keep the visible symbol clean.