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Civantos Hall

Tess Civantos | Monday, September 28, 2009

The year is 2030 A.D. The coal plant on campus has been replaced by a windmill. The squirrels on South Quad are the size of cats. And I am a gazillionaire.

That last thing is the least likely to happen. I’m a Program of Liberal Studies major, which means, by definition, that I’ll make peanuts after graduation, if I’m lucky enough to have a job at all. But a girl can dream, and here’s what I would do if I had a gazillion dollars in 2030 A.D.:

I would build a new College of Arts and Letters. I mean, take a look at O’Shag. It’s not that I don’t love the old place – Waddick’s is my second home – but compare it to Jordan. Or Mendoza. We all know that Arts and Letters majors earn significantly less than Business or Science majors after graduation. Here at Notre Dame, we get to feel the status difference while we’re still undergrads. We get an ancient building with cramped classrooms that probably haven’t been repainted since Reagan was president, while they get, well, Jordan.

The reason for this disparity is obvious. Business and Science majors can afford to build gorgeous new buildings for their alma maters, and Arts and Letters grads just don’t have those kinds of resources. That’s all about to change, though, with the new College of Arts and Letters I’m going to build in 2030.

Civantos Hall, as I’m calling it for lack of a better name, will feature everything beloved by liberal arts kids. There will be a Waddick’s, of course, with its usual vast selection of coffee, fresh-baked muffins and scones, and those surprisingly tasty microwaved breakfast sandwiches. My version of Waddick’s, though, will have a lot more booths, and no pesky art gallery across the hall.

As you approach Civantos Hall, the front of the building will resemble Plato’s Academy, with huge steps and tall pillars. Inside, the high, arching glass ceiling will let in natural light, with all of the classrooms opening off this central great hall.

The classes will be seminar-style (hey, I’m a PLS major) so the classrooms will be planned to feel like living rooms, with comfortable couches, squashy armchairs, warm broad-hearthed fireplaces and wide windows framed by long, luxurious curtains.

That is, of course, when the classes are actually held indoors. Usually the classes will be held outside on a grassy knoll, or in a forest clearing.

Best of all will be the library. It will be enormous, with at least three copies of each PLS book. Every effort will be made to exactly replicate the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. There will be a soaring ceiling topped by a chandelier, lots of cozy reading nooks tucked into the window alcoves and, of course, a rolling ladder.

I’ve already picked out a location for Civantos Hall. Have you ever run around St. Mary’s Lake and seen that plaque commemorating where Holy Cross Hall used to stand? That’s where I’ll build. Just wait for it. We only have 20 years to go.