Last Friday, a new campus tradition was born.
The U statue – a project three years in the making – was unveiled at the Homecoming opening ceremonies Friday afternoon.
The Cane-colored U encased by stainless steel stands at the center of campus on a patch of grass by the Rock. Students are encouraged to pass by and rub the U for good luck on the way to exams, athletic events, interviews or any other important occasion.
“Homecoming theme this year is all about tradition and the U. We thought it would be great to incorporate this new tradition into Homecoming,” said the Student Government (SG) Executive-at-Large External Bhumi Patel.
UM President Donna E. Shalala, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely and Sebastian the Ibis all helped to pull off the blue tarp and reveal the U statue.
“It looks very clean, classy and simple,” said sophomore Steven De Nicola, who attended the statue’s unveiling.
Freshman Freddy Michaud, who was also present at the ceremony, said that the statue makes campus look more complete.
“I have three tests next week, so I’ll spend a whole bunch of my time there by the statue,” he said.
The U statue was first proposed by the 2010-2011 SG Executive Board, which ran for office with a platform to temper the campus. The board included President Christina Farmer, who came up with the idea for the statue, and Vice President Pietro Bortoletto.
“University of Miami students are very spirited when they’re at the stadium, but we felt like our campus was a little lackluster when it came to spirit,” Bortoletto said.
They modeled the idea on the Sebastian the Ibis statue in front of the Newman Alumni Center, which was revealed during Farmer’s presidency. SG wanted something similar in a more central location on campus, Bortoletto said.
Under Farmer’s administration, SG announced a student design contest for the statue. Kevin Jones, an architecture student who graduated from UM in spring 2011, was the winning designer, according to Farmer.
Last year’s SG President, Brandon Mitchell, took the project forward under his own ticket’s platform to spirit the U.
“We made getting this U statue, or at least pushing it as far as we could, our number one priority on that platform,” Mitchell said.
The efforts during Mitchell’s year included getting price estimates, seeking funding and determining a location.
Whitely, who said she is thrilled with the U statue, was a big supporter of the project throughout three SG terms.
“President Shalala and I thought it was a terrific idea and that the U would add to the spirit and community on campus,” Whitely said. “More importantly, it was a student initiative.”
The cost of the statue has come out to about $85,000, according to SG Press Secretary AJ Ricketts. This is significantly less than the approximately $1.2 million that Mitchell expected.
According to current SG President Nawara Alawa, the statue was funded through the budget for the Student Center Complex project – which includes the construction of the new Student Activity Center and updates to the existing University Center.
Mitchell is eager to see what other traditions emerge.
“The students that are there now will be the ones to really take charge and figure out what they want the legacy of the statue to be,” he said.