Clark University has recently reconstructed two major footpaths on campus. The first leg of construction, the sidewalk that cut in front of Red Square, appeared to go smoothly. However, the second phase of construction, the path that runs directly in front of the University Center (UC) and up to Bullock Hall, is a complete different story.
To put it bluntly, the walkway and surrounding landscape is an unsightly mess. Lining the work are large patches of bare dirt from ripped-out landscaping and seating. Almost all the sprinklers appear to be installed in this river of brown dirt except for one, located between the Jonas Clark and the Sackler buildings.
Perhaps this half-completed work can be forgiven as the university has communicated that changing weather conditions pushed back some of the work until spring. While these problems should be fixed when flowers start to bloom and pollen pervades the air, there is another pressing matter.
Embedded within the new concrete there are distinct shoe and leaf imprints. What has been effectively created is a topographical time capsule of those rerouted weeks. Our more archeologically inclined students may even recognize these leaf impressions as modern-day fossils.
There is a certain degree of irony in this uneven walkway as one of the major motives cited for replacing the existing path was its uneven surface which presented a tripping hazard. Could somebody stumble on these impressions? Highly doubtful. If, however, a student paying approximately $50,000 a year were ambling along and admiring the view of a new pedestrian highway and were suddenly shocked at the sight of a workman’s boot engraving, they may very well lose their footing.
One Clark student articulated the real danger of this construction: “At least from my perspective now being a student, I would hope that the university, which I like as a whole, represents itself to new and potential students as it was presented to me.”
This is to say that it is not in Clark’s best interest to attempt to court the incoming class of 2024 with impressionistic sidewalks and yet-to-be-installed sprinklers to water the mud. The university has some awareness and appears to have already recognized this by posting signs during a major student campus tour that read, “We usually look prettier than this.”