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Pride Month 2024 is the Last Time Block U Will be Wrapped in Pride Colors

University administration confirmed the 2023-24 academic year is the last year the Block U will be wrapped for any occasion. Despite recent anti-DEI legislation, the reasoning cited was expensive paint repairs.
Jack Gambassi
The block U on campus with the colors of the intersectional LGBTQ+ pride flag on March 24, 2021. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | Daily Utah Chronicle)


The University of Utah’s 2024 Pride Week is the last time the Block U will be wrapped in pride colors and this academic year is the last one where the U will be wrapped for any occasion at all.

As confirmed by Chief Experience Officer Andrea Thomas, the decision was made due to the cost of paint repairs each time the iconic structure is wrapped. As Chief Experience Officer, Thomas manages the University’s Marketing and Communications. The Block U falls under UMC management.

According to University administration, it cost the U $24,500 to wrap the U seven times and has spent $615 in repairs total. Including $1,000 each year for maintenance, the U has spent approximately $28,115 within the past three years on the Block U.

“It just doesn’t feel like a good stewardship of funds,” Thomas said in an interview with the Chronicle.

The Block U has been wrapped every Pride Month since 2021 in an effort to honor LGBTQIA+ histories, cultures and lives and has routinely featured the Progress Pride Flag, designed by Daniel Quasar in 2018.

Contributing to the costs of each wrapping are student tuition dollars, dollars Thomas said administration would like to use elsewhere. 

“We don’t want to spend tuition dollars or dollars that can be used better on other things to just continue to repaint the block,” she said. So the decision was made to halt any wrapping of the U for any occasion.

Additionally, Thomas said the weather played a large role in the wrapping as it must be an exact 50-degree weather day to be most effective. This places celebrations such as Black History Month at a disadvantage since that time of year is typically too cold to wrap.

In light of recent legislation banning any use of diversity, equity and inclusion on college campuses, Thomas said this decision was not in reaction to H.B. 261 — because it had already been decided before the bill passed in January.

In regard to timing, she said, “It seems like it did, but no, it didn’t.”

Thomas said their support of students has not changed and they still uphold the same values as before H.B. 261.

According to Thomas, the anti-DEI bill has caused changes within the organizational structure, but not their ability to support students.

Thomas also expressed concern that if the U was wrapped “so often,” it would stop representing the university.

“Everyone’s talking about how we should wrap it for ESPN College GameDay, and it’s like, man, if it gets wrapped so often, it’s not the Block U,” she said. “It’s something that people love to come on campus and take pictures in front of, so we want to make sure that it represents us for a good chunk of the year as well, not just other initiatives besides us.”

A new method of allowing various groups of students to express themselves on campus will be unveiled next academic year, Thomas said. Whether this will be another structure on campus has yet to be confirmed. 

Thomas added after the academic year, the Block U will remain red, however, it could be considered for wrapping on a case-by-case basis. 

“I want to never say never on things,” she said. “But I feel like if wrapping it causes damage, and it causes us to spend money we don’t need to spend, there are other ways to accomplish what we were accomplishing.”


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About the Contributors
Libbey Hanson
Libbey Hanson, News Writer
(she/her) Libbey is a second-year graduate student in the MPA program studying public policy and administration. She is most interested in environmental policy and social justice issues. You can usually find her in the mountains hiking and skiing or reading and writing at a local coffee shop.
Jack Gambassi
Jack Gambassi, Photographer
Jack comes from Boise, Idaho and is a senior in the Honor's College majoring in economics with minors in Italian and chemistry. He is a pre-med student and hopes to go to medical school in the fall of 2024. Jack has been taking photos as a hobby since he was eight years old. After two years at the Chronicle, this will be his third and final year. A fun fact about Jack is that he speaks Italian.

Comments (2)

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  • C

    callieApr 11, 2024 at 4:42 pm

    So they’re no longer wrapping it for Veteran’s day either…right?

  • J

    John DoeApr 10, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    The biggest concern is the fact tuition was used in the first place. You’re saying the 1.3 billion endowment wasn’t capable of covering this cost via interest gained alone?? That’s embarrassing if we are being honest especially being the flagship.