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Column: Stokes - What Is It Good For?

Heights Columnist

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

After a week of getting readjusted to BC, it struck me how comfortably familiar the campus felt. The one glaring exception to this fuzzy feeling, though, was the nearly completed monstrosity named Stokes Hall.

    In its defense, Stokes Hall serves a legitimate purpose. Student enrollment has ballooned in recent years, inflating class sizes and creating a sudden shortage in teaching space. In sophomore year, I found to my horror that one class was actually scheduled all the way on Upper Campus. After trudging up to Gonzaga 15 minutes late in pouring rain and a foul mood, I switched to a different class on UIS as the professor was still lecturing. Stokes Hall will certainly improve the humanities and honors departments, as well as inject some much needed classroom space into an already overloaded campus.

    Despite these clear benefits, I still maintain an intense dislike of Stokes Hall. First, and most importantly, its construction forced the unceremonious euthanizing of the Dustbowl. While underclassmen were unable to experience this centerpiece of campus, I still remember it vividly. On student activities day my freshman year, organizations lined the Dustbowl with dozens of tables, posters, and members bellowing out their sales pitch to herds of unsuspecting freshmen. After my very first day of class, I lay down on the Dustbowl grass, reading Plato and basking in the sunlight of my blooming college experience. Now, after walking toward McElroy for the first time this year, I instead visualize a giant, ugly academic building falling out of the sky Wizard of Oz style. One of the reasons I applied to BC was its harmonious blend of urban and rural college elements. City-based colleges offer limitless possibilities for nightlife, dining, and socializing, but are often located in ugly metro districts. Rural colleges offer picturesque scenery, but are located on the outskirts of civilization, where boredom reigns. BC provides the rare mix of a vibrant nearby city and a postcard-picture worthy campus. Stokes Hall transformed the Dustbowl into a cramped array of academic halls. Instead of spotting people tossing Frisbees as I walk past the quad, I see yet another Gothic style building that I will sprint toward late for class in the near future. When the Dustbowl met its untimely end, it took a piece of BC ‘s campus identity with it.

    As a senior, the opening of Stokes Hall signals the beginning of the gradual erosion of the BC I fell in love with freshman year. Last year, I had to come to terms with the elimination of the bathrooms in Gasson basement, which I firmly believe were the best on campus. Sophomore year, of course, I had to bid farewell to the Dustbowl. Soon, the Plex and Edmond’s will be torn down according to the 10-year plan. Again, I understand the logic behind this grand 10-year plan. While I am way too lazy to visit the Plex for workouts, I have heard that it is an overcrowded and smelly place that could use an upgrade. Likewise, BC needs more housing for the steadily increasing freshman classes. Nevertheless, I feel that this new and improved BC will lose its identity and personality. As a Red Sox fan, I am glad that the team’s ownership decided not to build a new ballpark. It may have had more seats and better parking, but it would be missing the Green Monster and Pesky’s Pole. At the cost of material improvement, the new Fenway Park would be missing the soul of the old one. So, while I will continue to visit BC for football games in the years to come, I can’t shake the feeling that I will barely recognize it. Stokes Hall may be necessary, but I will always miss the Dustbowl.


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