By Faith Jarrell
Elm Staff Write
On the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 7, students woke up to find painted rocks with inspirational messages scattered around the Washington College campus. The rocks were created and placed by a person, at the time anonymous, seemingly to spread the positive messages written on the rocks.
The placement of the rocks stretched from Western Shore to the academic buildings.
In front of William Smith Hall, there was a rock that said, “Live in the moment.” On the pathway toward Sassafras Hall, there was a rock that read, “You are loved.” A rock that said, “The world is better with you in it,” laid by the Fraternity Quad.
Sophomore Carson Taylor was the one responsible for painting the rocks. Originally, Taylor’s identity was intentionally not revealed.
Many students questioned the identity behind those were placing the rocks, presenting different theories.
“I originally wanted to have this be on the quieter side, but a lot of people figured out it was me,” Taylor said.
Regardless their anonymous origins, Clinical Coordinator for Counseling Services Roland Jennings said that he supports the positive messages that the rocks are conveying.
“I saw one the other day along the Cater Walk,” Jennings said. “My first thought was, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ and my second thought was, ‘I wonder who is doing that?’ I think it’s a wonderful idea to help boost the vibes on campus.”
Taylor was not searching for any kind of attention around campus, but rather just wanted to send a positive message to his fellow community members.
Elm staff writer sophomore Dominic Rapposelli said that he was personally influenced by the optimistic feelings that the rocks brought to WC.
“It’s good to have the little signs of motivation. Keep yourself moving,” Rapposelli said. “I mean, who doesn’t like to be encouraged? Whether that’s from a person or from a rock.”
According to Jennings, it has been scientifically proven that little messages can boost the morale of those consuming them.
He referenced an article that he read about an ICU doctor that put sticker dots around their unit to remind their colleagues to ‘be present’ in their jobs and headspace.
“Over time, this spread throughout the hospital and the staff reported that it boosted their productivity and general well-being,” Jennings said. “I imagine the rocks could have a similar impact around campus.”
The potential effects of the rocks relate to the practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a form of therapy aimed to change thoughts and behavior of those with psychological issues or concerns.
Jennings said that CBT has shown that if negative thoughts are replaced with more helpful and true ones, then people tend to feel better overall.
“A rock with a positive message can help bring awareness to students, faculty, and staff about how they are thinking in that particular moment,” Jennings said.
Jennings agrees that just seeing one of these rocks has the ability to uplift a person’s spirits, even for a little while.
“We all have a lot going on and can easily get wrapped up in the chaos around us,” Jennings said. “A simple reminder can go a long way.”
Photo by Parker Thornton
Photo Caption: Many students were surprised to find painted rocks scattered around campus while walking to class one morning.