UK removes ‘see blue’ billboard: Sign taken down to avoid political conflict



By Tilly Finley

Many students are now familiar with the “see blue.” campaign where UK billboards are displayed around Lexington. Now, the university has taken down one of those billboards.

On Wednesday, UK made the decision to take down its billboard with a picture of Ryan Quarles, a graduate student and now third-year law student running for public office.

UK spokesman Jimmy Stanton, a member of the department in charge of the “see blue.” campaign, said the decision was made because of potential conflict.

“There was no political intent in using Ryan on the billboard,” Stanton said. “I understand how this can be viewed as a potential conflict, which is why the billboard was removed.”

Quarles, who announced his candidacy for the District 62 Kentucky state representative position in October, said the decision to use his picture as part of the campaign was made in June 2009.

The “see blue.” campaign focuses on telling the stories of highly successful UK students and aims to recruit undergraduate students, Stanton said. The campaign also works closely with scholarship students.

Quarles has been used in various “see blue.” campaigns since winning the prestigious Truman Scholarship during his junior year, Stanton said.

“Ryan was simply an example of an outstanding student … we actively search for as many examples of outstanding students as possible who wish to tell us their “see blue.” stories,” Stanton said.

UK did not include Quarles in the decision to remove the billboard, and Quarles said he never considered it as a political endorsement and still does not.

Quarles said the location of the billboard was far from District 62, and that most people who drove by the billboard, which was located near the intersection of Leestown and New Circle roads, did not know who he was or that he was running for public office.

“I was just proud to be a part of the “see blue.” campaign,” Quarles said. “It is UK’s prerogative whether or not to use the billboard, and if it is in their best interest to remove it, then I am behind the decision and fully support it.”