In 2016, as a junior in highschool, I started touring colleges in Virginia. I knew I wanted to go to school in Virginia, but with that as my only criteria, I had an intimidating number of options. With six tours scheduled, the biggest irony was that UMW was not a school I had planned to see. Only after pulling off of 95 for gas did we decide to meander around the campus. I instantly fell for the smaller campus concept, and felt proud to call this school my home away from home.
Now, five years later in my senior year of college, the campus I once fell for feels almost unrecognizable. With construction projects occurring everywhere you look, the once beautiful scenic campus we call home has been reduced to a mosh pit of neon vests and construction sites.
Senior photos is a tradition that is all too familiar to those of us who live on campus. During the spring semester there are always seniors dressed to the nines getting their photos taken at the places that make UMW home. The fountain is one of these prime locations, which is currently being disassembled. Coming to UMW the fountain was one of our staple locations, with it being a rule that you HAD to jump in the fountain before you graduate. For seniors who never had a chance to take a dip, there might not be an opportunity to participate in this tradition.
Seacobeck hall was once a staple location of UMW, but now even after years of construction being halted and restarted repeatedly, fences litter the view from College Ave. Even today as a fourth year senior, I still have yet to be inside seacobeck hall due to prolonged construction. The view from the wooded bridge connecting monroe to seacobeck has been prime real estate for beautiful photos as the overgrown foliage creeps along the bridge. Now, on either side of the bridge, all that is visible are fences and the sounds of construction.
Another one of these foundational locations to UMW lies in Ball Circle. Ball Circle has a huge place in my heart where I celebrated every homecoming, meeting with alumni and friends before the tailgate. Now due to the construction at Virginia Hall, Ball Circle has been disrupted by a horrendously ugly concrete path on a campus whose pathways are all red brick. As a sophomore and junior I loved Ball Circle and the memories I made there stargazing or meeting new friends. Now all I can think of is the concrete path tearing through the grass. At this point it feels like a personal disservice to call it “Ball Circle” being that it no longer resembles a circle.
The fact that all these places that made my school a home are being torn into during my senior year leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially as I come back to the school in hopes to have some semblance of a normal senior year.
I know that we will never truly be able to go back to the way we once lived, but more than that It saddens me to think that there might not be another person who falls for the campus in the way that I did. Touring this campus in the spring was never on my agenda and I had never planned on even applying here, only after seeing how much can fit into a school of only 5,000, did I really fall for the school. With greenery always only a moment away and a beautiful brick façade, there was little that broke up my enjoyment of the campus when I first arrived.
Now It seems a stretch to go five feet without being disrupted by towering fences and the sound of construction. I understand that these past few years have been prime time to work on construction projects. With less people on campus, now is the time to renovate and remodel. Even still, the scenic campus I fell in love with as a high school junior is no longer the place it once was. Although construction has always been in the background, now more than ever it holds centerstage being unavoidable. With this in mind, I can’t help but think that when I come back to the school as an alumnus, I won’t recognize the place I once called home.