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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Sore Legs and Spoiled Tempers From Shape of UMW Campus


Like many incoming students, I decided to study a map of the University of Mary Washington and locate my classes prior to my first week here. While I was able to find my classes with ease, I noticed something a little peculiar about UMW’s campus: our school is quite oddly shaped.

With a width of about a quarter mile and a length (from the Apartments to Eagle Landing) of about .8 miles, according to Google Earth, our park-like campus is just over three times longer than it is wide. While the dimensions of our campus are seemingly inconsequential, its long, narrow shape has some notable effects on students trying to get to class, specifically upperclassmen.

For those students living in dorms on campus, getting to class on time is not typically a problem. However, countless upperclassmen live in either Eagle Landing or the UMW Apartments, which are nearly a mile apart.

Having lived in the UMW Apartments during my sophomore year, I found it quite a hassle to attend my biology class in Jepson, seeing that it was quite a trek to get there. My resolution to work out regularly was also complicated by my distance from Goolrick, and the journey to the gym soon eradicated any motivation I initially had to exercise.

Similarly, students in Eagle Landing who have multiple classes in Combs will tell you how much of a hassle it is to hike all the way over to the east side of campus.

One’s willingness to socialize is put to the ultimate test when a student living in the UMW Apartments has to go to Eagle Landing to visit friends, or vice versa.

Perhaps those who built our campus, which I might add is undeniably scenic, had our physical well-being in mind as they designed it so that it would require students to do some serious foot traveling. That, or they didn’t realize the inconvenience it would cause. Or maybe they didn’t have the means to build a campus that used space efficiently. The things I would do for a square campus.

One might assume that having a car would solve this trivial problem. However, this is where the serious problems begin. I am fortunate enough to live in a house on William Street this year with a handy dandy car.

I assumed that driving to class would relieve me of the burdens previously mentioned. However, I soon learned that parking on campus is much more problematic than walking from one end to the other.

Due to the obnoxious shape of our campus and lack of inner roads that might have existed if our campus was shorter and wider, essentially, the only places to park on campus are College Avenue and commuter lots.

Like many fellow broke college students, I opted out of the commuter parking pass to cut some financial corners. Also, like fellow students, I assumed the best place to park would be on College Avenue. I soon learned, however, that attempting to find a decent spot on College Avenue takes about three times longer than simply walking.

One afternoon, I had to make five laps on this main street before I regretfully admitted defeat and parked on an obscure block on Augustine Avenue.

The best part of that day was when I got a $35 parking ticket because my car apparently made it blatantly obvious that I was a UMW student parking in a “No UMW Student” parking zone. All right, Mary Washington, you win.

This UMW problem is clearly trivial and of little importance to the school’s administration. However, it really is the little things about this school that just make me shake my head.

Lesson learned: walk to class. And on my walk, you can be sure I will be dreaming about a utopian square campus where students are free to choose which main road is ideal for parking, and treks across campus that eon’t require every ounce of willpower a student possesses.


  1. anonymous

    Is this satirical? I can’t tell. But if walking less than 1 mile to class is a problem for some people.. just wow.

  2. Sore Legs?!

    UMW has a fairly flat campus so walking a mile shouldn’t be a problem at all. I studied at West Virginia University, and the whole campus is full of hills(so bukes arent even in the picture) and everyone that walks seems to be able to handle it and some of our buildings are well over a mile away.

  3. Arnold

    I recently purchased a Segway to help with my campus commuting needs. I could have saved a few dollars by not purchasing the personalized one, but I figured I was worth the extra money. Maybe this can help you too!

  4. If you didn’t have will power, you wouldn’t be at college. Sounds like a bit of whining to me.

  5. 2010 alum


  6. Matt

    “I assumed that driving to class would relieve me of the burdens previously mentioned. However, I soon learned that parking on campus is much more problematic than walking from one end to the other.”

    You have no idea. Try being a commuter on days that there are events…visitors fill up the parking deck and contractors are taking up a big chunk of our spaces at the William St apartments lot then you’re lucky if you can find parking anywhere that won’t get ticketed.

    Stop complaining about having to walk a mile and be glad you don’t have to drive around for 10-20 minutes looking for parking and then STILL have to walk that far on top of it all.

    I walk a bit over 2 miles a day — average 1/2 mile each way from parking to Trinkle for class PLUS that much again if I drive somewhere for lunch or 2/3 mile each way if I buy food at Giant. Yet I don’t complain about walking, I complain about parking; the walking is good exercise.

    Stop complaining or get a bike.

  7. That Guy

    Buncha crybabies

  8. Molly

    Hey, it’s the author here. To answer the first question–I suppose this could be considered satire. For all of those who assume that I consider the shape of our campus/parking situation to be a serious burden in my life, rest assured that this article was intended to be light-hearted. It’s difficult to come up with something to complain about once a week, particularly when I consider how much I love my school. That’s all.

  9. Arnold

    Don’t let the nay-sayers get you down. And if you ever need help finding things to complain about, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I have any number of issues on my mind at a given time. For example, right now it’s Students Helping Honduras. And while the lip sync competition is over, the $2 a day challenge is right around the corner. There’s always something here at UMW.
    Your friend,

  10. Anonymous

    stop being lazy, learn to walk and believe me, walking about a mile to class is nothing compared to larger school, so stop whining appreciate what you got, and seriously, grow a brain…please

    sincerely, the rest of the world

  11. Anthony


  12. Anonymous

    I really wanted to upvote the person who posted the comment #firstworldproblem but forgot this isn’t reddit.

  13. OOOH! TWO DOLLAR CHALLENGE IS COMING! Thank you for reminding me, Arnold!

  14. Anonymous

    At least your privileged enough to have a house. It’s the same as a rich person complaining that their driveway’s too long when they have to get the mail.

    Live on campus if you care enough to write an article about it.

  15. Anonymous

    Some people are taking this way far. There are plenty of people, whether they be commuters, or just off-campus students, that have a long way to travel to get to classes. And nobody can deny that going from Eagle Landing to Combs is quite the hike. Everyone stop complaining about Ms. Sullivan’s message, and worry about your own physical expenditures.

  16. A hike? Ummmm…it’s a campus, not a nature preserve. This is not a long campus. But at the same time, while we may have the population of a high school, I apologize that everything is not all localized in a single large building. We do have the portable trailers, though.