Four years ago, as a senior in high school, I had the overwhelming pleasure of attending Candidates’ Weekend here at Villanova University. As a prospective student, I was hoping that Villanova could make itself stand out from the rest. Was this a school where I could see myself for the next four years, a place where I could spend my undergraduate career?
Many say college is the best time of one’s life. Was Villanova going to provide that for me, all while giving me the tools necessary to graduate and become a successful member of society?
Candidates’ Weekend 2010 had all of the answers. The members of the Blue Key Society and the Villanova Ambassadors were energetic and knowledgeable. A few keynote speakers provided helpful insight into life at the University, and a guest appearance and speech from former basketball star Scottie Reynolds ignited the gathering of potential Wildcats. An outstanding meal at the South Donahue Market satisfied any questions my stomach may have had about the school. I even had the pleasure of connecting with a few other excited candidates, some of whom became my first college friends.
Yet amidst all the fantastic attributes successfully showcased by Candidates’ Weekend, there remained one selling point that needn’t be highlighted.
Growing up in Scottsdale, Ariz., I spent my childhood surrounded by desert, with a mountain or two mixed into the flat landscape. The University was unlike anything I had ever known. The hilly campus was covered with green trees reaching toward the sky alongside the iconic St. Thomas of Villanova church steeples. Students gathered in the Quad in front of the sharp, state-of-the-art Bartley Center. Clubs and other student organizations set up booths around the Oreo. Even South Campus could be characterized by its grassy knoll and endless foliage, accompanied by scenic picnic benches hiding beneath the trees.
The campus was beautiful, which undoubtedly becomes a key factor in the decision of many students when choosing a four-year university for their undergraduate education.
Especially at the University, a school that is constantly vying to attract the most outstanding students, the aesthetics of the campus might be the only thing left to separate one prestigious school from another. It was, among other things, important to me. Yet nowhere during Candidates’ Weekend was the future radical transformation of this landscape mentioned.
My freshman year went by uninterrupted, but news of a massive campus-wide renovation project reached students’ ears in December of 2010, and the project was underway by the beginning of the next academic year.
As a rising sophomore, I spent all summer looking forward to living in Sheehan Hall, one half of the hallowed quad. However, I was in for a wake-up call, quite literally, as jackhammers served as my alarm clock for the fall semester, rudely waking me up at around 6:30 a.m. each morning. In addition, the area between the Connelly Center and Vasey Hall was completely inaccessible, inconveniently rerouting students toward the outskirts of campus on their trips to and from class.
My junior year on campus was marked by the hostage-taking of the Oreo, one of Villanova’s more recognizable landmarks. Once again, traffic through the heart of campus was blocked by rent-a-fences, and it took added effort and planning to get to Kennedy or Dougherty Hall. The brand new Ellipse was completed at the tail end of the fall semester, just in time for yours truly to go abroad for the spring.
I was greeted this year, my last year at Villanova, by even more extensive construction in the middle of campus surrounding Alumni Hall, severely altering routes to the library and other important locations. I realize how beautiful the campus WILL be once all construction is completed. I recognize the benefits that future students WILL enjoy. I understand the advantage that the University WILL receive in the coming years as a result of this project.
But as a senior set to graduate in May, I take issue not only with the fact that I have been inconvenienced for three of my four years here on Villanova’s campus by construction, but also I feel as though I have been robbed of what was promised to me during Candidates’ Weekend in 2010 and during the decision-making period before my final choice was made.
I have received more than I could have ever hoped to receive from Villanova and its community. But as far as the campus landscape goes, the Villanova which I decided to attend and for which I decided to pay was replaced by a mess of dirt piles, construction workers, chain-link fences and loud noises.
What I am left with is a vague memory of what used to be, and promises for a future campus on which I will never live.