Decoration before deconstruction: Saying goodbye to the McKay Education Building

Benjamin Ess’s essay written on the wall on the third floor of the McKay Education building.

As the spring 2023 semester comes to an end, Weber State University students studying within the McKay Education Building are finding themselves saying goodbye to the structure, which is set to be demolished in the beginning of May.

According to Kristin Hadley, dean of the Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education, many of the faculty in the McKay building started the spring semester by having their students do projects on the walls. These projects consist of the students writing a quote, or something that means something to them and then writing their signature as a way to say goodbye.

Faculty have supported students drawing on the walls but must be associated with the College of Education and have faculty permission before doing so, according to Hadley.

“I think for students who have spent so much time, so many semesters in these classrooms, to kind of do it as a goodbye to the building, I think this is a great thing,” Hadley said when asked about how she feels about students writing on the walls of the McKay building. “That is why we want to have it be for the students who have spent the time in these classrooms.”

WSU student Benjamin Ess is an English secondary education major who had an essay he was originally going to present at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference held at Weber State University. Because he did not have the chance to present at the conference, Ess decided to write the essay on the walls of the building.

“For me, I get to self-publish on a wall,” Ess said. “I’m 38 years old, and I’ve been told my whole life don’t draw on the wall. When the building is torn down, my work gets to go down, it’s in the dust, it gets buried, it gets to become part of Weber State University, so I get to contribute something more of myself to the university.”

Inspired by famous poets Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and American novelist David Foster Wallace, Ess’s project consists of 600 words and took over two hours of writing with a sharpie marker on the third floor wall of the McKay building to finish.