I have read nothing but positive comments over the past several years regarding the “transformation” of the campus at WKU, so I would like to offer an opposing viewpoint. Quite frankly, I hate it.
I have had the privilege of visiting the campuses of Murray State, Morehead State, EKU, UK, U of L, Lindsey Wilson, Georgetown and a few others. When I showed up at WKU for a visit in 1997, I was amazed at how beautiful and unique the campus was. The Hill was adorned with flowers, trees, alleys, green space and scenic areas.
It was common to have flag football games out next to the residence halls along Normal Drive. You’d see students laying out in the fields studying and soaking up the rays. There were still at least four residence halls that didn’t even have air conditioning. August temperatures of near 100 degrees in the rooms sort of became a badge of honor for those who lived there.
Some of the other residence halls still had the post-WWII-era feel to them.
I remember dating a girl who lived in McLean Hall, and every time I walked in the door of that place I was overcome with awe. It was like walking into a different era. The design, the smell, the lighting, the construction, it all came together to create an environment you’d never forget. All of the imagery from walking around that campus burned itself in my memory forever. It was awesome. What a great place to spend four years!
Fast forward to today. I drove through campus earlier this year and my jaw hit the floor.
Where is the green space? Where are the fields with students tossing Frisbee and laying around under trees talking? Where is all the old architecture that gives the residence halls their own personality? It appears that literally every single patch of grass has been removed in favor of a sidewalk, parking lot or building. The Valley of the Dolls is the only area left that still looks the same, and I’m sure Gary Ransdell has big plans for that spot too. It’s a travesty!
What we see here is that the most beautiful and unique campus in Kentucky has now been reduced to a concrete jungle. It’s now exactly like every other place around. There’s nothing there that students will remember fondly 15 years after they leave the Hill. There is nothing left to leave an indelible image on their minds. There is nothing there to make them feel like they are a part of the generations before them.
It’s a total shame. I am so thankful that my first year on the Hill was Ransdell’s first year also. It means that I got to see and enjoy the history and grandeur of campus before he had time to ruin it. “Progress” doesn’t always take you forward.
– Shawn Crowe
Class of 2001