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The Blue & Gray Press | October 17, 2017

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Amphitheater renovation unnecessary, removes historical character

Amphitheater renovation unnecessary, removes historical character


Despite being such a little-visited part of campus, the amphitheater has recently come to the forefront of the minds of the student body. This is mostly due to the unfortunate accident that occurred to a female student.

Something mentioned much rarer is the $3 million fundraiser to renovate it. Unlike some of the student body, I do not believe that the amphitheater’s reconstruction should happen in the near future.

The amphitheater is located behind Trinkle Hall, mostly ignored by the campus. Sometimes professors might use it when they decide to teach class outside during nicer weather. The amphitheater also saw use three years ago when Stephen Davies, the computer science department chair, and David Toth, a former UMW professor, allowed themselves to get pied in the face after a lost bet with their students.

Considering the email sent out on March 16 by vice president of student affairs Juliette Landphair, in regards to the incident in which the aforementioned student was seriously injured from the columns in the amphitheater, the renovation seems rather prudent. Landphair suggested a rather simple set of rules for the student hammockers which boil down to how the buildings are old, some of the trees aren’t strong enough to hold a hammock’s weight, and just to avoid the amphitheater in general.

“The work put into [the amphitheater] could open it up to future use for other venues, like how years back we used to have those shows at the Nest,” said James Rives, a senior English major.

According to the UMW website, the most recent article regarding the matter of the amphitheater’s fundraiser was published on March 30, 2015 to celebrate how there is just half a million dollars left until its goal is met. In this article, President Hurley was quoted saying that the amphitheater brings forth a “tremendous amount of nostalgia and pride” from alumni. Along with the fact that some people on campus think the abandoned amphitheater lowers the attractiveness of the campus, the need for the renovation has been in discussion for awhile.

“Watching it fall to pieces is a neat visual reminder of the persistence of nature over any man-made structure,” said UMW alumna Ellen Dreher.

The amphitheater’s decay is a living metaphor. It is the calm that comes after a life well lived. The fact that the fundraiser has nearly reached its $3 million goal demonstrates that UMW’s students have loved the amphitheater well, but sometimes people need a reminder that aging ungracefully is not necessarily terrible. The atmosphere that the amphitheater provides is calming and that attracts many students.

There is nothing to be ashamed of for escaping to the one quiet place on campus whenever necessary. UMW’s campus is so small that trying to avoid certain people is almost impossible. Renovating the amphitheater takes that away from students. Its status as a campus monument that is also falling to pieces ensures that students, for the most part, stay away from it and preserve this peace.