Nothing says “welcome” like a large silver fence. But that’s what our incoming freshmen and returning students ran into as they began navigating the University of South Dakota campus.
It wasn’t as big of a surprise for me; I was here in Vermillion all summer. But the day that I had to go to practice in the middle of summer, and my route was cut off by a giant fence – that was a little frustrating. I had already been navigating my way through the mud holes created by the crews who ripped up the grass and laid down new concrete paths – now there was more for me to navigate around. It made a 10 minute trip into a 20 minute one, the first day I encountered this problem.
Oh wait, you didn’t realize that? Right. So all the brand new, deep green grass that the university is watering during the middle of the day is actually all sod that was put down about two weeks before classes resumed for the fall semester. I think it’s a great improvement to our campus, but I’m extremely glad that they did it over the summer instead of during the year. Because instead of concrete crisscrossing campus, there was an orange construction fence slimming down the paths to one or two.
I just question whether or not it was the right decision to put two huge fences up, cutting people off and causing a lot of distress from the students on campus. Especially when ground isn’t broken yet, nor has there been for about two months.
For one, they limited options to eat outside, on the side of the Muenster University Center. That leaves just four or five measly tables out in the front of the MUC for people to sit at and enjoy the beautiful weather. And especially right now, the weather is meant to be enjoyed.
Another thing is that yes, one side does take away an important sidewalk that used to have a lot of traffic on it.
Don’t get me wrong – the improvements to the MUC are going to be phenomenal. More seating areas, which also means more studying areas for students on a daily basis, is going to be a great improvement. But why wasn’t this done in the first place? And why not start as soon as school ended? Is having fences really conducive to the environment of the university?
We continuously have students coming in and visiting. And yes, while the idea that our already fabulous MUC is going to be expanded, the first impression is that the fences are foreboding and a little unattractive.
Maybe they should have started this in the summer, so at least there would be signs of progress for when students returned. I don’t know. But until the ground is broken, all of us are going to have to navigate more serpent-like around campus.
Reach columnist Corey Wannmaker at Corey.Wannamaker@coyotes.usd.edu.