Campus Building a Never Ending Story
By AUSTIN BARTENSTEIN
When I visited Mary Washington during my senior year of high school, it didn’t strike me as a place struggling with its identity.
Almost four years later, I now associate constant rebuilding and renovations with our campus. While a lot of these changes are good ones, the campus has never felt complete to me.
When I entered UMW in the fall of 2007, the bookstore was a trailer plopped on what used to be a beautiful lawn in front of Westmoreland Hall. I only know the lawn was beautiful from alumni and old pictures.
On one of the most traveled parts of campus walk, there was a wall that extended the whole length of Lee Hall. While the white boards were good for promoting student events, they were also great for graffiti, and like the trailer, stuck out significantly on an otherwise beautiful campus.
Mary Washington is recognized for its beautiful campus, but when prospective students see Mason and Randolph residence halls blocked off or Monroe looking unfinished this year, they have to wonder if our rankings are correct.
According to the new master plan, the construction on Monroe started last fall and is projected to be completed in fall 2012. Mason and Randolph should be completed in March 2012.
The trailer that used to be the bookstore is now called the Annex, and is where students take history and geography classes.
A friend who is a junior geography major, has had to take all of his major classes in this trailer and, according to the projected completion date, will never take a class in his academic building. Had he known this, he said he likely would not have gone to Mary Washington.
The constant construction on campus never allows students to enjoy the feel of a complete campus—a campus that is okay with itself.
When asked when the construction would stop on campus, President Rick Hurley said “I do not expect the construction to end although there may be a year in which there is nothing going on but, if that happens, it won’t last for long.”
While the administration feels the construction is necessary for the betterment of the campus, current and future students will never have the experience of a full Mary Washington campus.
When asked if he thought the construction took away from campus life, Hurley said, “Building construction is bound to have an impact on campus life but, as you can see by the types of projects we have been doing (renovations) they are unavoidable if we want the keep the spaces functional, open and modern.”
He also cited the construction of the new Anderson Center project as an example. This is probably the most exciting and necessary project on campus, but when completed I will be an alumnus, along with many other current students, and will not get to enjoy its use.
While the building is necessary and exciting, the unfortunate catch is the fact that students will always be missing out on some part of the campus.
Every time I come back to this school as an alumnus, it will feel different than the way I left it. At a school with one of the top historic preservation departments, there may be nothing historic about the campus if the building never ceases.