Murray State declared plank-friendly after WKU controversy

Murray’s Plank-Friendly Logo

Katherine Wade

Murray State University: Home of the Racers, more than 10,000 students, and now a plank-friendly campus.

In the dining halls, in the residential centers and all over the quad, Murray State University students, and even MSU President Randy Dunn, are showing off their planking skills in a YouTube video posted earlier this week.

“And even the president creates an environment where students are allowed to have their own type of creative expression,” Jim Carter, MSU vice president for institutional advancement says in the video as Dunn planks while surrounded by students.

Planking is a popular form of performance art in which participants lay stiff as a board on random surfaces.

MSU’s video comes shortly after the controversy at WKU in which incoming freshman Tyler Webster was banned from campus for planking and defacing the WKU property with stickers advertising his website, Webster’s ban was later lifted and he has since declined to comment on the situation.

“Here at Murray State, we encourage our students to be bold, take risks, walk the plank, if you will,” Carter said with a wink at the camera. “And enjoy your college experience.”

MSU senior Katie Farmer, who planks and talks about her MSU experience in the video, said she volunteered to participate after hearing the news about the planking incident at WKU.

“We don’t get to do a lot of creative videos like this one very often,” she said. “We thought we’d have a little fun without hurting any feelings or stepping on anyone’s toes.”

Farmer, a TV/production major, produced the video with Roundabout U, a program through MSU’s television studio that focuses on activities on campus that impact students and the community.

President Gary Ransdell said the video is clever, but that it illustrates a few things about Murray.

“First, our students are doing constructive things to help people,” he said on Thursday as M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan students participated in Big Red’s Blitz, a day of community service. “Our students are volunteering across the community today. Their students are planking. It looks like there’s not much else to do in Murray!

“But I did notice that their plankers chose to stay on flat, no-risk surfaces.”

Students plank in the video on objects such as signs, tables and on the ground, including in front of — but not on — a statue of MSU founder Rainey T. Wells.

“Secondly, the video shows we are followed and envied across Kentucky,” Ransdell said. “We don’t pay much attention to what happens on other campuses. We’re just focused on our students and their progress.”

MSU Chief of Staff Josh Jacobs said the school decided to make the video in response to the “international phenomenon” that planking has become. He said the video’s jabs at WKU were all in fun.

“There is always competition between institutions within the state,” he said. “We compete for ranks, we compete for students…we were just responding to the fun our students are having.”