The image of the College of William and Mary’s campus as blissful, historic and quiet is being seriously challenged this autumn. It seems as though the entire area has become a hub for construction, remodeling and renovation, along with the accompanying noise and dust. Generally, academic institutions attempt to complete their major construction projects during the summer months in order to avoid inconveniencing the student body, but the sheer number and scope of the College’s current construction projects eliminates that as a viable option. In case you are one of those people who saunters across campus, head down and music blaring from your headphones, I will enlighten you about the fact that there are many construction projects occurring at the moment. Tribe Square, Small Hall and the “Historic Campus Utilities Project,” are all in full swing. While few can deny the inevitable need for updating a campus that originated circa 1693, do we have to do it all at once?
Yes, remodeling and construction bring new, shiny buildings that can grace the pages of admissions handbooks and websites. However, this construction also brings dozens of trucks, machines and cranes onto a campus that is nowhere near equipped to handle this traffic. The enormous construction vehicles scattered across campus also making an already muddy campus a veritable swamp. Something is off at the College when I see more fluorescent orange cones in a day than colonial reenactors (and I never thought I would dream of a day when I saw more of those). As someone who makes the walk from Sorority Court to Morton Hall a minimum of two times a day, I am not a big fan of any detours along my route. I am convinced that the historic utilities that make up the “Historic Campus Utilities Project” have been positioned with the sole purpose of disrupting my walking path. If someone were to map my walk they would most likely assume that I was running away from a jackrabbit (which can only run in a zig-zag line, in case you were wondering).
Because my trek across campus is a tad lengthy, I generally use that time to call home or catch up with friends. Regrettably, these phone conversations increasingly resemble this:
Emily: Hi, Mom. I am having a quarter-life crisis and have no direction or purpose in life.
(Very loud construction noises: screechrumblecrash)
Mom: Well that’s just great, sweetie. I’m so glad you have taken up Kung Fu. Self-defense mechanisms should never be underestimated.
Emily: Really? You think I should drop out of school and move to Hawaii to open a surf shop?
Mom: Maybe someday kung fu will become an Olympic sport and you can wow the world with your skills.
Well, you get the picture. I think that e-mail may be a more viable communication option until these construction projects quiet down.
Now you may be thinking, “Well, isn’t this girl a whiner.” And, yes, that would probably be accurate. But I guarantee that if you haven’t already tired of the incessant noise, dust and detours that result from the construction mayhem, you will be singing quite a different tune by the end of the semester. Unfortunately, that tune may be to the beat of a jackhammer or chainsaw.
__Emily Walker is a Confusion Corner columnist. She hopes to one day see a reentactor wearing a hard hat walking across Old Campus.__