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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

Pacific Rocks

Napa Rock

Two giant granite rocks can be found in the center of the Stockton Campus. Colloquially referred to as the Graffiti Rocks, they are painted and repainted by students almost nightly. On any given day they may display Greek letters, announce a birthday, make a political statement, welcome new students or advertise an on-campus event.   

Each layer of paint tells a story. What does the first layer say? How many layers are there? Where did they come from?  

The first rock to appear came from Napa College, which merged with University of the Pacific in 1896. It was brought to the Stockton campus in the late 1940s as a way to commemorate Napa College and its graduates. It has a natural "seat" indentation and was engraved with a "93" and the initials of some Napa graduates, which have been obscured under layers and layers of paint since the late 1970s.  

Engineering Rock yearbook photoAcross the walkway, another rock in front of School of Engineering and Computer Science building Khoury Hall found its way onto Pacific's campus one St. Patrick's Day in the 1960s. Two mischievous engineering students, Marc Goto '61 and Fawzi Al-Saleh '62, wanted to make their mark, so they drove to Placerville, loaded an enormous boulder into a truck, and brought it back to campus. According to Goto, the Rock was so heavy that "where it landed, it stood." After it was positioned, students gathered for a water balloon fight and a picnic, and the Rock was painted green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

It wasn't until years later that students began painting the rock on a regular basis. Now, every day, the rocks are introduced to prospective students during campus tours, and at night their looks are up for grabs. Their appearance is constantly changing. 

The students who brought the rocks to campus had no idea they would become such a central component of Pacific tradition and a source of entertainment for generations of Pacificans to come.     According to campus tradition, the Rocks can only be painted between midnight and 5 a.m. Campus groups, fraternities and sororities send pledges to paint the Rock in the middle of the night and stand guard to protect their handiwork. Somewhere in excess of 50 layers of paint are added to the rocks every year.  

When National Old Rock Day comes around each Jan. 7, geologists and amateur rock enthusiasts take it upon themselves to show their appreciation of all things fossilized and stony. It's a good opportunity for us to celebrate Pacific's own old rocks.