Anyone strolling around the Eastern side of campus last Friday was witness to a very peculiar sight. The chain-link fence and heavy equipment had been rolled back from the quad in front of Olin Hall, exposing large tracks of torn and abused soil.
Colgate, not an institution to tolerate scars marring the picturesque perfection of its campus, quickly took action. Trucks appeared loaded down with identical three feet by two feet hunks of sod. These were systematically laid down in a checkerboard pattern until no trace of the ugly brown wound remained. The whole operation needed to be completed with such haste because Friday also marked the official opening of the long-awaited Robert H.N. Ho Science Center. Colgate wanted to present a fresh face to the flocks of alumni descending on campus in honor of the event.
Truly it was a remarkable piece of industry. Within two hours the area around the Ho Science Center had been transformed from a muddy construction sight into a manicured lawn complete with sprinklers, the height of achievement for a fine academic institution — please note the irony.
The stunt with the grass is a perfect example of hype and posturing that has become inseparable from the Ho.
Stilted to be completed before the beginning of this academic year, construction on the Ho was clearly running slow. Rather than lose face and admit that completion of the Ho was running behind schedule — a tactic that conjures to mind semesters without a proper library — the administration maintained the position that the building would in fact be finished.
To prove this rather preposterous claim, professors in Lathrop, and to some extent Olin, were forced to box up their teaching and research labs. Delicate equipment and supplies were carted away and the flow of distilled water into the labs was cut. All in the name of a publicity stunt that declared, “look we are moving into our expensive and newly ‘finished’ science center.” Valuable academic pursuits were interrupted or impeded in an attempt to save institutional face.
No disrespect is meant in any way to the skilled and tireless team of construction workers who hastened in recent weeks to bring construction on the Ho Science Center to a close. The progress they have achieved has been astounding. Anyone fortunate to have received a tour of the new facility can attest to the excellent design and workmanship of the science center. Science at Colgate will no longer be conducted in dingy basements.
No complaint can be lodged against the necessity of the Ho Center or its execution; rather, the sticking point lies in the administration’s response to unavoidable delays.
It rankles that at a prestigious school such as Colgate, pomp and ceremony would be chosen over research and academic integrity. The lovely green lawn looks like it is here to stay; hopefully the hype and propaganda will wash away in the next rain.