A Wall To Divide Constructed – And Crumbled – On UW Campus

Sep 19, 2014

The Berlin Wall came down in East Germany 25 years ago, but last week a new wall went up here in Wyoming. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard finds out why history is repeating itself.

Young adults with spray paint cans stand in front of a colorful canvas. They graffiti the 32-foot long wall with calls for freedom, unity and love.

The structure is topped with barbed wire and is manned by American and East German guards. No, this isn’t Berlin circa 1989. It’s 2014, and this is the south end of the University of Wyoming.

Stephanie Anderson is the associate professor of political science at UW. She headed the efforts secure a grant from the German Embassy to commemorate the anniversary.

“They put out a call to Universities all across the country, offering them a grant if they could come up with some interesting series of events to commemorate the 25th anniversary,” said Anderson.

One of Anderson’s ideas? A mock Berlin Wall. Anderson herself is an eyewitness to the fall of the real Berlin wall. She was visiting a friend in Berlin when she was told to drop everything and run to the Brandenburg gate.

“So I did drop anything and we ran right over and people were dancing on the wall it was the most exciting moment,” she said.

It was a moment at which most UW students weren’t even born yet. Freshman Mclean Eddins said the wall offers him a chance to glimpse the past.

“You know to us we’re so used to be able to go anywhere in the United States without having to think about it so it’s kind of funny just to see this random wall with these weird signs and writing on it. So it kind of makes you think it must have been hard not just have 20 foot section but miles of it. So it kind of just put it in perspective more than anything,” he said.

At the commemoration Tanja Boerzel, a German and an adjunct professor of Global Studies at the University, offered her view on why she thinks the cold war won’t repeat itself

“It wasn’t Gorbechov and it wasn’t Ronald Reagan, it were the people on the streets in Germany and Poland and Hungary who went out and claimed their right to choose their own way. And I think that’s what brought the wall down will also prevent another wall from going up again,” she said.

After the address faculty, students, and community members came together to tear the wall down.