SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – For the first time, the well-known Block U on the University of Utah campus has been wrapped in colors from the Progress Pride Flag in honor of the University of Utah’s annual Pride Week. 

Pride Week 2021 at the University of Utah starts March 29 and runs through April 3. 

According to the University of Utah’s website, Pride Week at the U is an annual event “honoring LGBTQIA+ histories, cultures, and lives.” 

The U is inviting anyone to join in for this year’s week-long series of events to learn, celebrate, and be inspired. 

“Pride Week is planned by a volunteer committee of students, faculty, and staff collaborating across the university. All are welcome to get involved and participate in Pride Week events,” says the school’s website.

To celebrate, this year the school took to social media to show the iconic Block U in the heart of campus has been given a makeover to commemorate the week. 

“The #BlockU is sporting a new makeover for #UofUPrideWeek, which begins Monday.”

In addition to the traditional rainbow pride flag colors, the Progress Pride Flag adds black and brown to signify LGBTQIA+ people of color and the trans pride flag colors. 

Dr. Clare Lemke, Director of the U’s LGBT Resource Center tells ABC4, “This is the first time the Block U has been wrapped in the colors of the Progressive Pride Flag.” 

“The idea came from feedback from student groups and alums who reached out to our office and university administration to brainstorm how the U could visually express its support of LGBTQIA+ communities as part of Pride Week,” Dr. Clare Lemkeshares. “Although the Block U is a visual representation, the more transformative addition is a Pride Week fundraiser for scholarships that support students. The feedback we’ve received so far has been overwhelmingly positive; people are excited to take pictures with the ‘Pride U’ and post their own messages in celebration of Pride Week. We are encouraging everyone to use the hashtag #PrideWeekAtTheU!”

This year’s University of Utah Pride Week theme is “Queer at the Intersections,” with the intention to explore the many intersections of LGBTQIA+, the school shares. 

According to the U, student designer, Sarah Larson, adapted the progressive flag to work for the Block U wrapping.

The mid-campus display of intersectional LGBTQIA+ pride came together with help and support from across campus including Student Affairs, the College of Fine Arts and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, university officials share. 

This year, Pride Week at the U will look a little different than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most events will be held entirely virtual, and all events have the possibility of remote participation, the U shares. 

“Despite the challenges of working under a pandemic, the exciting and inspiring schedule of events for this year’s Pride Weeks is a reflection of the creativity and tenacity of the Pride Week committee—a volunteer committee comprised of over 30 students, faculty, and staff working hard for six months to make Pride Week happen,” the school shares.

See University of Utah Pride Week Schedule.

University officials say they want to make it clear, Pride Week is not about claiming that the U as a campus has arrived when it comes to LGBTQIA+ equity and justice.

“We know that harmful acts against LGBTQIA+ people occur every day on our campus. This includes individual acts of hostility and microaggressions, as well as systems we have in place that disenfranchise LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff,” says the school. 

Instead of claiming perfection, the University of Utah Pride says they promise to keep striving to make campus and the larger community better. 

If you are on campus next week the U asks you to show the Block U some love by using the hashtag #PrideWeekAtTheU.