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Restoring a Piece of University History

From left: Craig McCarthy, Rian Shah, Phil Gardner, Career Center mascot “Zeb,” Kim Hardiman, Anthony Falese, and Richard Plofker (Photo by Glenn Jochum)

When Stony Brook University biochemistry student Rian Shah got the idea to return the walkway known as the Zebra Path back to its original black and white design, he posted his views on Facebook and found out he wasn’t alone in his wish to preserve a piece of University history.

Stony Brook art student Kim Hardiman had originally painted the Zebra Path as part of a project for her art class back in 1981. For Stony Brook’s 50th anniversary in 2007, the administration decided to repaint it red and white in honor of its “red hot” campaign.

“I fought for the Zebra Path because it has become part of our campus history and I did not want to see it disappear without a trace like the Bridge to Nowhere,” Shah said. “I also realized that after graduation this year all the students remaining on campus would have only seen the red and white path, and I felt that if this happened there would be no hope of any student movement arising in the future. So it really felt like this was our last chance to save Stony Brook history.”

Shah said that 600 people posted their support for the plan on Facebook. As a result, Shah e-mailed Vice President for Facilities and Services Barbara Chernow to see if the University’s administration supported repainting the path. It did. Shah then approached Craig McCarthy, a student senator with the University Government, to write a resolution. When that resolution was passed, the Facilities and Services division assigned the task to five Campus Operations and Maintenance personnel, who measured the walkway and went to work repainting it in three sections.

“This project demonstrates our division’s continued effort to serve our clients and promote cooperation and respect for our students, employees, and the greater community,” said Chernow.

The Zebra Path restriping project was headed by Campus Operations and Maintenance Supervisor Greg Adams, and the work was performed by Rich Plofker, Phil Gardner, Martin Catapano, Anthony Falese, and Sid Islvario. The project took a total of three days to complete. The first phase of the project entailed patching cracks and holes in the concrete. The team obtained a photo from the archives and was able to replicate the original design. From there, the crew measured, line-chalked, taped the lines, and finally painted the sections.

“I am very happy that the campus maintenance crew followed my instructions to repaint the Zebra Path with sharp straight lines,” Hardiman said. “When I painted the original public art work in 1981, I wanted to make a unique artistic design that everyone would enjoy while walking along the path. Black and white represents the yin and yang theory of the balance of opposite forces in life. It is part of the Asian feng shui theory of balance and harmony in nature. We all need to balance our lives, school, work, male and female relationships, heaven and earth, concrete and natural environment, and the past and the future.”

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