Frosted vinyl hiding UVU’s rock wall is removed

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Mount Timpanogos faces directly into the windows of the UVU rock climbing wall located in the Student Life and Wellness Center, but the view has been blocked by vinyl frost covering the windows since the construction about four years ago.

While scaling the side of the rock wall, climbers couldn’t take advantage of the view of the majestic mountain. Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness DaSheek Akwenye submitted a facility modification request to remove the vinyl.

The rock wall was strategically constructed to allow climbers to see the mountains, but during the construction process, former university president Matthew Holland was concerned about the kind of image it would portray to people passing by.

During an infrastructure meeting held Aug. 9, President of Student Affairs Kyle Reyes shared some history regarding the initial decision to cover the windows. According to Reyes, president Holland felt that the view of students climbing the rock wall would distract from the academic seriousness of UVU. Vice President of Finance and Administration Val Peterson also noted that potential donors were visiting the campus during that time.

During this meeting, Vice President for University Relations Cameron Martin added that he believes the uncovered glass would allow those passing to see that students at UVU are engaged not only academically but by their entire wellbeing. The final decision to remove the vinyl covering the glass was made during a President’s Council meeting.

“That was President Holland’s first real building from beginning to end, and he was really involved in the planning and the design,” said Associate Vice President of Facilities Planning Frank Young. “As the wall was being built, he was pushing his serious, engaged and inclusive student success triangle, and he was really concerned that the image of the climbing wall would detract from the serious mission of the university.”

Young views the mountain as a goal for students. They can climb the artificial mountain at UVU and eventually work towards conquering the real thing. It helps with goal setting and that theme can reflect back into academic success. He thinks that the new view will allow students to take advantage of this experience.

“Now that we have open windows, it feels a little more fresh and freeing,” said Ryan Belton, an Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) employee and outdoor recreation junior. “[Before the removal,] it would start to feel like you were in a box.”

UVU is about hands-on learning, and climbing can be part of this engaged learning platform, according to the program manager of the OAC, Kimberly Reynolds. Facilities began to remove the vinyl Nov. 5 and completed the project later that week. The new appearance has drawn in students.

“We’ve had several people come into the rock gym saying that they didn’t even know it was there, not to mention when the sun is setting — the mountains look amazing,” said Lucas Wild, an OAC employee.

The OAC is planning on having an unveiling event in the near future to celebrate the new view, according to Reynolds.

Photos by Abby Van Buren