Stop sterilizing our college experience

While it would be foolish and simply incorrect to question the beauty of our campus, we do have one aesthetic qualm that has been bothering us lately. The recent crop of buildings that have been popping up on campus, starting with the DUC and continuing with the South 40 house, have a sterilized, non-collegial feel that could be modified. The minimal flyer space in the DUC makes us wonder where we are supposed to get the word out for our clubs and student activities. Even worse, what happens if someone posts flyers outside of the blue-taped areas in the new dorms? The DUC is supposed to be a student center, and the South 40 is supposed to be a place where students live. It is not necessary to wax and buffer the floors of the DUC every single night. It is not necessary to build colossal dorms on the 40 that are reminiscent of a ski chalet in Gstaad. The mix between the Aspen-glam new dorms and the Soviet Bloc style old dorms just feels wrong. But we shouldn’t have to worry about that for much longer, because those old dorms will be torn down soon anyway. If the school wants to continue to build buildings that serve as brochure porn for potential undergraduates, the student body must recognize them as such; however, we students need a place to be…students.

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Holmes Lounge is a great example of a functional yet beautiful location on our campus. Comfortable chairs and ample seating make for an enjoyable place to spend an hour or two. Holmes looks like students actually use it. There’s a little wear and tear to the room that makes us feel at home. The old Bear’s Den had a similar function. It had a soul; it was part of the Wash. U. experience. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest building, but regardless, that was where students wanted to be. We are not prima donnas. If there is a scratch on the floor, that is okay. We’d rather have that than have students talk about going to “downtown South 40,” in a few years. This University is loosing that “soul” with every sterilized, faux-riche building that it plops down on campus. Colleges come with a history. Buildings, rooms and hallways should have stories that come with them. Freshmen should get to hear about what used to happen in their dorm over previous years.

With the fear of our campus turning into Disney World looming, we can only wonder what to expect in the future. Will we be able to touch the walls in the next building that gets built? We are not in college to be babied. A college campus should be vibrant and lively. There should be an infectious spirit that runs through the flyers and chalk drawings.

The University should be a place for the students who are there, not a façade to attract new students. Please stop disinfecting the school, please stop sterilizing our college lives as if the student body were a bunch of hypochondriacs. We can assure you that we’re not. And we want our school back.

  • JayWestern

    i don’t even think the DUC is supposed to be for students, otherwise it would be called the DUSC! it’s for hosting corporate events and office space…

  • Kevin Lin

    While I do think Washu wastes a lot of money, they did look at renovating the old dorms. However, it’d take more to bring them up to code than to just rebuild them. They aren’t Americans with Disabilities Act compliant since they don’t have elevators and some of them require stairs to get in the front door. They apparently aren’t fire code compliant, since they don’t have sprinklers and have narrow hallways. The ventilation systems apparently also have issues.

  • JM

    Let’s talk about the real issue surrounding all this development: the money. It is totally unacceptable that Wash U is cutting programs while continuing to construct these totally unnecessary buildings. Do you really think students prefer the new South 40 house to having a center of ethics and human values? What about faculty cuts and charging students to print course materials? What about TUITION!? I know Wash U is a very new-student oriented school, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of its current students.

  • WashU student

    I completely agree. It’s wonderful that WashU is continuously thinking to improve the standard of living for its students. But really, when I entered four years ago the dorms were already pretty near perfect. Unless the old dorms were a safety hazard, they are fine as they are. I miss the homey feel of Rutledge with its balconies and the coziness of Bear’s Den.