Sun. May 26th, 2024

Last Friday saw an unexpected and (quite literally) earth-rattling natural disaster of immense proportion. Fifty years from now, everyone in the tri-state area will be able to say where they were when the ground began to shake ever so slightly. For some, however, the earthquake meant more than just a mere inconvenience  — it meant an upheaval to their entire way of life.

Schmidt Hall, a traditional-style North Campus dorm built in 1970, was the first to feel the tremors’ effects, with the entire eight-story structure crumbling in a matter of moments. Experts later discovered that the building’s quick topple was probably due to significant cracks in its foundation, which had presumably been made during an indoor trampolining event earlier this year.

“Schmidt went quick and easy,” says first-year student Ulysses Beaver, holding back tears, “like my grandma.”

West Chester officials are relieved to say that no one was injured or killed in the collapse, as none of Schmidt’s residents like to be inside if they don’t absolutely have to be.

The university, however, already seems to be moving on from the loss, and students on the Residential Quad this week may have noticed a sign proclaiming the rubble-strewn heap where Schmidt once stood as “the future home of West Chester Blacksmithing Co.”

For years, students have been asking for an on-campus forge where they can get their chain mail repaired and horses shod. The nearest establishment offering similar services (Ulric’s Soldering Shop) is located in Phoenixville, over 126 furlongs away. Enrollment data from 2010-2020 shows 48% of students who chose another school over West Chester cited their reason as “lack of professional metalworking resources.” Dozens of dorm residents are reprimanded for smuggling in amateur-quality smithing tools, including full-sized furnaces, every year.

“We had to add anvils to the list of items that aren’t allowed,” says Brandwine Hall RA Lorem Ipsum. “It was becoming too much of a problem.”

At long last, though, it seems that West Chester officials are listening to the needs of their student body. The Blacksmithing Co. is set to begin construction in August of 2024 and to open its doors next winter during the height of the steel armor season. A coveted few apprenticeships will be available to students with an ironworks minor, or those pursuing a certificate in copper welding.

“I am so glad we are finally getting a blacksmith,” says second-year Squire Studies major Zachary Zibble. “Horseshoes from Etsy just aren’t the same.”

Comments Desmond Edmonds, a professor at WCU’s Charlemagne School of Jousting and Valor: “This was exactly what has been missing from the school. We could have had a new parking garage or expanded housing, but ultimately, an on-campus blacksmith is a far more useful resource.”

 


Hannah Linkowsky is a 0.125th year international Sorcery student who hails from Middle Earth. Send her a missive at HL977843@wcupa.edu.

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