The Spirit Bench, while an extremely well-known part of student life on Pacific University’s campus, remains a mystery to many, particularly in terms of the outlandish and eccentric set of rules that govern it.
While the bench is free game for any student organization, club, or group to paint, there are other rules — originally concocted by the Greek Life organizations on campus — that the rogue artists of Pacific may want to know before they drop a pretty penny on a few cans of spray paint.
Pacific senior Julia Alden, president of the Theta Nu Alpha sorority, shared some particular rules from a list drawn up by the Pacific University Greek Senate (PUGS).
“It’s pretty well-known that it’s only allowed to paint the bench during certain hours,” said Alden, “but the actual times that students can paint the bench are between 8 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., basically from dusk until dawn.”
This rule is understood by most Pacific students and is introduced to some even before orientation; however, some rules are not so clearly laid out for students hoping to unleash their creativity on the bench.
Some are never explained to students at all. For instance, Alden explained, “One pretty specific rule is that people are supposed to paint the entire bench. No color can be left over from whoever painted the bench before, so you have to paint all of it or none of it.”
Perhaps one of the most bizarre of these customs created by PUGS is the “rope rule,” which dictates that organizations should bring a long strand of rope along every time one may want to paint the bench. If another organization shows up to the bench to paint it, the two must engage in a tug-of-war match to determine who gets to paint the bench.
Oddly enough, Greek Life takes this rule to heart, with each sorority and fraternity painting their rope with the colors of their specific Greek chapter.
“It’s just a fair way to determine who gets to paint it first,” Alden said about the guidelines, “but there is no time limit that another group has to wait to repaint it after the previous group.”
Even with the oddly particular set of rules surrounding it, the bench remains a symbol of collaboration and artistic expression on campus. It adds life to Pacific’s stately campus with a little pop of eccentricity. Just remember to pack a rope and plenty of paint when making a mark on the peculiar landmark that is the Spirit Bench.