By GARY KNOWLES
A central part of the University of Mary Washington’s identity as a college is its beautiful campus. Being located in a historic city and a relatively small town allows UMW to maintain its status as an aesthetically appealing campus.
Fredericksburg’s emphasis on its historical identity means that while new buildings and structures are built, the central places and buildings remain unchanged. UMW is one of the cornerstone attractions in the Fredericksburg area, but the recent construction projects have interfered with the natural, meditative beauty of the campus.
I live in Spotsylvania and a couple of my high school friends were going to UMW before I transferred from Germanna in the fall of 2016. Sarah Sanford—who is no longer a student here—showed me around campus.
The amphitheater stuck out to me as one of the most quiet and beautiful places at UMW, the experience of touring campus is one of the main reasons I wanted to apply here. The relative distance from other buildings allowed the amphitheater to be a peaceful getaway for me. Occasionally, you could stumble upon a student or two sitting down at the amphitheatre because it’s such a great place to read or work on assignments.
I would go there from time to time when I needed a place outdoors to contemplate new ideas and enjoy the restorative qualities of the encompassing natural beauty. During the snowstorm, I came upon the amphitheater blanketed in white and the scene left me breathless.
Since the incident at the amphitheatre, the facility has undergone construction. With all this construction happening on campus, walking along College Avenue became even more hectic, trees along the sidewalk have been uprooted, obstructive fences and cautionary cones have been put up.
The first sight of the UMW campus along College Avenue is now interrupted by the highlighter orange cautionary signs and roadblocks. Farther down College Avenue, towards Combs, there are bales of hay marring the view of campus.The construction projects are there to provide new resources for the school—nobody argues that. But, the fear is that these projects are chipping away at a key feature of UMW’s identity.
The pristine and visually appealing views found around campus can invoke an attraction to the university and allow for students’ minds to wander. The construction has taken away from the peaceful environment of UMW. Instead of the beautiful campus, many current students have come to know and love, visitors and prospective students are greeted by a scattered series of projects that chip away at the peaceful scenery at UMW.
On the surface, the temporary staining of the university’s campus seems superficial. However, it may be someone’s initial impression of UMW. Not to mention students who are used to a lovely campus, waking up to see trees and ground being morphed into piles of dirt littered with construction equipment and bordered by fences.