Ellie Hall | Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Notre Dame is not the same school it was when I visited campus for the first time three years ago. My first impression of the University was disbelief at the splendor of the grounds, the number of trees and the wide expanses of grass. Now, Notre Dame’s natural beauty is being sacrificed in a quest founded on a principle of space efficiency. In the past year alone, we’ve seen the renovation of the Law School, the beginnings of the new CSC building, the completion of one new residence hall and the quick construction of another. Paths from one side of campus to another are re-routed to avoid fenced-off areas, and it is impossible to go anywhere without hearing the rumble of workers and machines. The most obvious example of this trend can be seen behind Welsh Family Hall. Instead of Ryan Hall, the nearly-completed new women’s dormitory, the land next to the bookstore used to have a large, majestic tree, underneath which sat a statue of Jesus the teacher. More trees lined the pathway from the bookstore to McGlinn Hall, and the open area in between was a place for games, quiet study, sunbathing or simple reflection on an unobstructed sky. Last year, students from all over campus flocked to this spot to observe a lunar eclipse for this very reason. The University is apparently running out of room for anything but architectural beauty. Some University officials are apparently attempting to ameliorate this trend by planting new trees all over campus and creating grassy areas where there were none (the new space in front of Reckers, for example). Although this is commendable and speaks well of Notre Dame’s environmental consciousness, the planting of a new tree does not replace the loss of a 20-year-old oak and a small expanse of grass cannot compare to the large field that disappeared. Dr. Seuss’s Lorax spoke for the trees, but I speak for the trees, the grass and the sky. The students who chose to come to this University shouldn’t be forced to watch as buildings replace running paths and slowly consume the untreated greenery on campus. Notre Dame needs to preserve the natural beauty of the campus as it expands.