Utility trumps ‘history’
September 30, 2010
Those of you who ventured outside this past week probably ended up a bit damp. But, as it turns out, so did some who stayed inside. This week’s torrential rainfall led several campus buildings to flood both Wednesday and Thursday nights, as has happened in a handful of other storms in past years due to outdated drainage systems.
The fact that drainage on campus needs to be improved is obvious to nearly all students and campus officials. That imperative is often contrasted, however, with the need to preserve the historical integrity of campus buildings. Regardless of whether or not we have the money to renovate drainage systems (currently, it’s not looking too good), the choice presented above is easily decided: improvements over preservation.
Except for a handful of buildings (the Sir Christopher Wren Building among them), few areas of campus can truly be called historical sites. For the most part, this is an adopted aesthetic. While the cobblestone feel may be important to the College’s overall identity, we can protect this historical aura only to the extent that it does not directly interfere with its role as a functioning campus. Protesting necessary drainage renovations on the grounds of historical preservation — and allowing flooding to wreak havoc — undermines both the goal of preservation, as well as the buildings’ utility as part of an academic environment.