Many students relish the thought of coming back to school to reconnect with friends and regain the quintessential freedom that college brings with it, but not me. Granted, I do enjoy the reunions and independence just as much as the next person. But what I truly love about coming back to West Chester after the summer and winter breaks is the scenery. I can recall instances in my time here when students were asked by Orientation Leaders or by professors what made them choose WCU over any other university and the responses were always plain and simple: the campus. This fall semester I, along with everyone else, was greeted with the sight of reconstruction instead. Reconstruction of the academic quad to be exact. This news did not come as a surprise however; students and faculty knew of the university’s plans to make changes to the quad since the end of this past spring semester. I’ve done some research, thought it over, and came to the conclusion that the academic quad remodel just didn’t make sense for West Chester aesthetically and financially.
Coming back to school and having limited access to what most consider the epicenter of the campus was disheartening to say the least. The academic quad serves as the social headquarters for the entire student body. It’s the place where people sit out and study on a nice day and where students can partake in the painfully cliché yet still enjoyable game of frisbee.
The black metal chains and yellow caution tape block direct access to the new quad, while various signs state that students and faculty will be able to use the new “Ellipse” come mid-September, once the sod has sufficient time to set in. According to the Facilities page on wcupa.edu, the “Great Lawn” (who exactly came up with this name I would like to know) will receive daily watering and tending to until the sod has sustained itself properly. The website’s update on August 26 stated that the barriers would be removed by September 8 if everything fell into place correctly.
Obviously, that date has come and gone by now, and the student body is getting restless. Junior Devin Gerber thinks that the remodel isn’t the best move that WCU could have made.
“There are a ton of other things the school could have used the money for to be more effective,” Gerber said. “Also, it makes the commute to class longer because the quad is bigger now and we are not allowed to walk across it.”
Financially speaking, I also agree that the remodel was perhaps not the best move. I found some interesting information on the Design and Construction page on the university’s website about how the university pays for construction projects and whatnot. According to the site, funding for projects like the quad remodel comes from a few primary sources such as legislative funds, capital campaigns and bonding funds, and also bond issues that the school receives. There was nothing “wrong” with the previous quad that would have beckoned a complete re-haul of it. So why did the university feel the need to spend money on a superfluous project? I believe that the money spent on the remodel could have been better spent on other things, such as student affairs.
Aside from just the financial point of view, the aesthetics of the remodel don’t strike me as ideal either. The thing that I loved about the old quad was the versatility it provided everyone who used it. There were multiple pathways to get to the academic buildings and the grassy areas were spaciously spread out. Not to mention that the old quad had some depth (or at least interest) with the small hills and art statues. Going from all of that to a plain and simple circle is kind of a letdown to be honest. So it goes.
Apparently (and hopefully) the new “Great Lawn” will reopen sometime this month, just in time for the beautiful fall weather. I personally can’t wait to simply lie in the grass with friends like I did last semester. Only time will tell whether West Chester made the right decision in remodeling the academic quad. Till’ next time everyone, so it goes.
Rachel Alfiero is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.