Cindy Folefack
Managing Editor

Framed photo of Steve Buscemi placed in crawl space surrounded by prayer candles, toy phone

Two students discovered a makeshift shrine to actor Steve
Buscemi, best known for his roles in “Fargo” and “Reservoir Dogs,” under a
stairwell in Green Hall on Wednesday.

Literary studies junior Maddy Gathright and her friend,
economics senior Katie Brannon, were walking upstairs to a computer lab in
Green Hall to study when they saw traffic cones near the bottom of the stairwell.
Brannon said she went to investigate and noticed a small door at the bottom of
the stairs was open. After going inside, Brannon found a framed photo of
Buscemi, alongside prayer candles, a toy phone and a used pregnancy test, among
other items. It is unclear as to who created the shrine. This comes after the
discovery of a Danny DeVito shrine in a New York college earlier this month.

“I didn’t believe (Brannon) at first — I thought she was
just trying to get me down there,” Gathright said. “I go down there to see if I
could stick my arm in the door and look around the corner … so I was gonna
follow her in there, and (the shrine) was actually there, and I was like, ‘I
cannot believe this.’”

Gathright recorded their experience in a video that was
later shared on the UTD subreddit and Twitter, where it has received nearly
2,000 likes. Brannon said her original intent in going to the bottom of the
stairwell was to take a traffic cone, as she has a hobby for collecting them.

“My other best friend lives in Hawaii, and there’s traffic
cones everywhere — there are literally piles in the street,” Brannon said.
“(She) and I tried to see if I could lean out the window and grab a traffic
cone without her stopping … we would tuck them into bed and her husband would
get (mad), so now I have a thing for traffic cones.”

Brannon said that after finding the shrine, she decided to
add to it on her way out of the building.

“I added batteries, a friendship bracelet and a whiteboard
eraser,” she said. “I made up the meanings for them after I left, because
that’s how my brain works. The bracelet was mine, I found the batteries on the
ground and I may have swiped the eraser from a board that doesn’t belong to
me.”

After the video was shared on social media, UTD’s official
Twitter account responded with “#OnlyatUTD.” Shortly after the university’s
response on Nov. 29, students noticed the shrine was gone, but not before a
student edited the university’s Wikipedia page to change the mascot from Temoc
to Steve Buscemi. Director of Physical Plant Services Kelly Kinnard said the
shrine was removed due to safety concerns.

“When I got (to campus), I went and checked it out and found
the shrine. I’m still a little confused by it, quite honestly, but what I
noticed is that it’s in a crawl space under a stairwell,” Kinnard said. “Once
you’re inside there, it’s completely dark, very easy to get hurt — there’s
large support beams that, if you can’t see them, you’re gonna nail your head on
them. There’s electrical conduits. It’s just not a safe place to put the
shrine.”

Kinnard said the shrine itself wasn’t an issue, as his
concerns were primarily for student safety. The crawl space originally had a
hatch on it that required tools to open it, and Kinnard said he suspects the
students who placed the shrine used those tools to open the hatch. The crawl
spaces are now padlocked. Kinnard said he’s unsure about what was done with the
contents of the shrine.

“We certainly don’t mind the students having fun,” Kinnard
said. “We just don’t want anyone to get hurt.”