Campus Beautification: Is it really worth it?

6 a.m.: I am awakened to what sounds like a gigantic woodpecker trying to crack a few bugs out of the pavement. I peer out the window as I shut it, desperately trying to block the ruckus from entering my sleeping quarters, and I realize it’s not a gigantic woodpecker but a team of burly construction workers ripping apart the sidewalk.

8:45 a.m.: I stumble out of my dormitory and onto a bright and congested Commonwealth Avenue. I have spent the past two-and-a-half hours trying to sleep while the overwhelming sound of metal scraping against metal carves into my head and leaves me with a headache no amount of Tylenol can relieve. As I try to make my way to class, I weave between getting jackhammered to death or hit by a car on a makeshift sidewalk in the middle of the street.  The narrow walkway is cluttered with people whom, along with oncoming traffic, I have to carefully dodge. Guided by frighteningly orange construction markers and judgmental police officers, I finally arrive upon a bit of solid concrete — that is, the actual sidewalk. My relief, however, is short lived. Another clump of torn cement and a cluster of sweaty New England men await ahead. 

Alas, the root of what has become a terrible start to what will now probably be a terrible day makes itself clear on a small sign in front of the School of Management: it’s Campus Beautification. 

If I had known that making the campus beautiful would first require making it look unforeseeably ugly and inconvenient, I never would have opted for it. But wait a minute — I didn’t opt for it. I don’t want it at all.

I really have to ask: What is this going to bring, anyway? A few more trees and patches of grass that will provide nothing more than eye candy? A cutely bricked sidewalk that trips me up as I scramble, tired and hungry, to make it to lecture? It is not worth it. 

I know it is a common argument for those of us who attend Boston University, but for all that I am paying to attend this institution of higher learning, I would be much happier seeing my tuition go toward something a little more rewarding — perhaps making it an even higher institution of learning. Or, maybe we could relocate the construction workers from the streets of Commonwealth Avenue to the site of Student Village 2. That way, the building will be erected more quickly, and the majority of BU’s students can live on campus as soon as possible.

This little sign that notifies me of the hard work being put into making campus more aesthetically pleasing also tells me the project will improve student safety on a busy Boston street. I really have to question if that is true. I highly doubt that the number of pedestrians hit by cars or the T will decrease in the coming years. Even if it is presumed to be true for the future, I did not know that making thousands of students walk in the street and forcing them into close proximity to what are, most certainly, a number of Hard Hat Areas, is providing safety. I guess you really do learn something every day.

I guess it comes down to a matter of priorities. Apparently, our administration’s top priorities are pretty trees and green grass. I wonder what is next. I also wonder if this is something the administration believes we want. If it is, then I am a bit surprised and a bit disappointed with my peers’ materialistic and superficial values. I have never once expressed any discontent with our location or the tidiness of our campus. We could use a couple more places like the BU Beach if we’re after something more aesthetically pleasing. However, organized spots of planted grass amidst a heavily trodden concrete pathway don’t offer the same kind of relaxation the BU Beach does. 

What I value are things like getting a complete night of undisturbed sleep and being able to leave my place of residence in safety. I value the company of my peers and strong, healthy friendships. What I do not value is wasting money and trying to fool the public with an illusion of comfort and safety. I would hope the university I attend values the same.

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