Killing Clark Hall

posted in: Opinion | 0

Clark Hall is a wincing eyesore to the grand vision of Pacific University. First impressions matter, and college-bound students have begun to show a determining interest in sustainability goals, green buildings and eco-ambiance throughout their college selection process. As interest grows, what will future students think upon their first arrival at Pacific University? After exiting the freeway and entering Forest Grove, all prospective students will pass our multi-million dollar sports complex and arrive not to a grand eco-entranceway—but to the unsightly backside of Clark Hall.

The University of Puget Sound and Whitworth University feature premier green entrance ways that can capture the grandeur of education and intrigue the mind upon first sight, well representing the standards of excellence characteristic to all Northwest Conference universities.

While there is no urgent need to worry—as nearby rival Linfield College still remains a school shadily entered from behind a Safeway parking lot—Pacific needs to address two progressive goals to “sustain” their future as a premier university by creating an eco-engaging entrance way where Clark Hall stands, and by continuing the construction of LEED-certified dorms to house all students.

Since the construction of the library, all buildings have been built to LEED gold standards. These are where our campus tours will take most prospective students. Unfortunately, Burlingham Hall, the Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro, Berglund Hall and Gilbert Hall are not readily available to house freshmen students. All students—especially freshmen who come with an enticing annual price tag—deserve to be housed in a LEED-certified building.

While being bitten by bed bugs in good old Walter Hall can build character, and while the toothpaste-filled holes in your Clark Hall dorm room may be metaphoric of the “freshness” of the college experience—neither of these archaic dormitories should house the future students of Pacific University.

Perhaps fittingly, the dorm-sized remnants of Tom Reynolds field—which lays adjacent to Clark Hall—grows weeds and daisies while Clark Hall grows old. No community garden occupies this space and no garden will be built due to administrative money-lust. Pacific University, its board of trustees and President Hallick can at least benefit from building a LEED-certified dorm upon this section of Tom Reynolds Field and developing a grand eco-entranceway in place of Clark Hall. This compromise and construction of another LEED-certified building is no futuristic feat as well. Quite conversely, these additions would attract new students and are economically viable in the state of Oregon.

Since 2009, the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has shown rapid construction of green campus buildings, the birth of 113 sustainability-themed degrees, and 13 sustainability themed research centers nationwide. Business is booming. Furthermore, Oregon is one of the few states with tax benefits for green buildings; where Platinum LEED-certifications earn two dollars per square foot on a 100,000-square-foot building.

While we have all “spruced the grove” as freshmen, it might also mean more to strengthen the local economy through such construction—instead of pulling weeds outside of local business offices.

Campus sustainability and green developments are cutting-edge investments for capital campaigns and admissions marketing at private universities. Sustainability will, unfortunately, always be interpreted as “sustaining a paycheck” for private universities hell-bent on expansion.

Yet even along the lines of expansion, the holistic rhetoric of Pacific University, its board of trustees, and even President Lesley Hallick remains a verbal piss in the wind. Little is done and with so many graduating seniors, the wind is blowing directly into our faces, forever staining the face of Pacific University’s future and leaving a bitter taste for Pacific’s future alumni.

All students need to re-spark the “Destroy Clark & Walter” campaigns that our current seniors experienced a few years back. These movements  eventually died out and fell silent,  but plans to knock down Clark and Walter Halls have existed for years.

Students need to take active steps to ensure that Pacific meets its sustainable development goals and acts on its green promises. To prevent “greenwashing,” or an exaggerated sense of sustainability, all students must realize their worth and organize. Students pay the school and should never forget that. Demanding that some of your hard-earned “green” be invested, at the very least, into green LEED-certified buildings is a quick first step to positively changing your college experience while you are still an actively engaged and concerned student.


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