Editor’s Column – Hi Ho, Hi Ho And Off the Seniors Go

Alex Whitaker

Is it strange that sometimes I wish I was a first-year?

Yes, I like living in an apartment instead of a cramped dorm room and getting first choice for classes is always nice. Yet there are two important reasons, both currently residing on top of the hill, why I wish I was a member of the class of 2011 and not the class of 2008: the gargantuan Ho Science Center and equally expansive Case Library. These buildings are brand new (or newly renovated), cutting-edge and architecturally daunting — and they’re here just in time for me to graduate.

To be fair, I do feel fortunate to reap the benefits of these great new buildings for my entire senior year, which is more than the recently graduated class of 2007 can say; yet I think it will take me a full year just to figure out how to get around these huge structures. I very nearly got lost on the second floor of the library earlier this year and I actually did get lost in Ho on the first day that it was open. My misadventures should not be attributed to the architects or floor planners, but rather just my sense of wonder while roaming the buildings. I could not believe that I was actually standing inside these great facilities, whose construction had been a mainstay of my Colgate experience since I was a first-year.

Indeed, I remember arriving on campus for first-year orientation in 2004 and seeing the beginnings of the construction on the library. A large part of what now is an immaculately trimmed field between the library, Persson and the Student Union was fenced off and filled with construction vehicles. Even inside the still-operational library, you could hear the installment of the futuristic LASR system from outside. The next year, my sophomore year, the current library site was completely shut down and moved next door the Student Union.

Around the same time as the library moved, a construction zone began to take shape between the Coop and Olin, where previously there were only trees and a small parking lot. While this development obviously did not have as much of an impact on students as the displaced library did, it represented another eye sore and interruption of the flow on our beautiful campus. My first semester of junior year was more of the same, as we waited patiently (or rather impatiently) for the buildings to open. While I was not on campus for the spring semester, I know that Case was only open in a limited fashion towards the end of the year.

But enough complaining on my part about the last three years; to be honest, the construction caused more minor inconveniences than serious threats to my academic career. And now we have two world-class learning centers at our disposal. As a comparison, last semester I studied at the University of Sydney in Australia, which consistently ranks in the top 50 universities in the world — and their library and science centers pale in comparison to what Colgate now possesses. Sure, the Sydney library may have contained more volumes than our library does and that is to be expected from a large, research-based university. But there were certainly no robotic arms fetching books for me, nor were there state-of-the-art computer labs, and none of the science buildings boasted a planetarium on the top floor (which I had the opportunity to visit last week and it’s absolutely amazing).

Thus, my take home message has two parts.To upperclassmen: use these facilities to their fullest extent. Write papers in the library, buy coffee from the caf?e and explore the incredible interior of Ho (it’s worth it, even if you don’t take a science class). We are the inheritors of this entire project. And to the underclassmen: don’t take these buildings for granted. They are great assets, but understand where they came from and how much effort was put into them. After all, one day they will be all yours.