While serving as a peer ambassador on the most recent Candidate Weekend, one comment stood out to me: It feels like no one lives here.
It wasn’t that I found the comment truthful; I know there is life on campus. It was that I struggled to prove it false. I found myself grasping to find physical proof of our existence in this community. Our campus seemed to lack outward expression of self, be it formal or informal.
At most US American universities with an established campus, blankets, Frisbees, posters and sculptures populate the space. Unique artistic expression and informal infrastructure are practically a symbol of student life. And while it would be silly to assume we are just like the average US American university, the inclusion of more informal infrastructure and outdoor art exhibitions is important. Our projects and picnics mark us as a community and define us as people.
Also, philosophy aside, the original outdoor infrastructure of our campus has failed. The concrete benches on campus are the epitome of discomfort. Shade on campus is cast by little more than fancy metal poles. The injured and handicapped can’t even take an elevator to get to their own residential buildings from the ground floor
. Our current space is far from perfect, aesthetically and logistically.
Granted, our situation is improving. At a recent General Assembly, Deputy Vice Chancellor Hilary Ballon announced that the administration was thinking about reevaluating outdoor space and providing portable furniture to students. Although some concerns were dismissed by Ballon for conflicting with the spirit of the campus design, the administration is fielding suggestions. One would hope the administration continues to listen.
When we arrived on Candidate Weekend, we were told that we would change the world. We would — ostensibly — become global leaders. In comparison to this, creating informal infrastructure and artwork on campus is a small mission. Any leader can change their backyard. In the end, the administration has proved to us that we are not bound by any design plan to reshape our university. The checkpoint, not originally in the design plan, proves this. We should consider what is truly the purpose of maintaining a campus design if it is contrary to the desires of those who live within it.
Tom Klein is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.