Durant Hall: A Symptom of the Problem

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I was heartbroken to read about the destructive vandalism that took place at Durant Hall last week. I can only guess at the motivation of the perpetrators. Coming so close to demonstrations making the case for public funding of education, it undermines the case of a genuinely important cause.

Durant Hall's current sad, fenced off, unused state is emblematic of the painful budget cuts to campus, robbing us of so many wonderful possibilities for revitalizing a unique & beautiful architectural gem along the campus' historic axis.

The plan was that the building would be renovated in a manner to preserve the many fine details inside and out, and yet update it to be ADA compliant, energy and water-efficient as well as leak-free.

Had funds for the project not been cut, we would be admiring the genius of the work done, of construction nearing completion and a building brought back into vitality and life; potentially a candidate for awards in 'existing building' renovation.

Or had the logistics of the project not been so far along prior to the state pulling the funds -neither vacated nor ready for construction to start-our creative project planners could have delayed and kept the space in use, at a time every square foot is needed. Unfortunately it is too late for 'what-ifs'.

Instead it is a symbol of the economic meltdown that is still scorching the earth in our state. A reminder that outside the world of campus, some neighborhoods that were once thriving, now sit blighted, because homes were foreclosed upon and people's lives and livelihood were ruined by reckless finance capital. It is a reminder of the pain of this difficult time, and the downcast pessimism of broken dreams.

I do not know what motivated the people who perpetrated this incident. I don't know if they understand why they did it. I only know that we all lose when our rare and precious historic resources are squandered in a moment of thoughtlessness; that the community suffers. And we have all suffered enough already in a tough economic time.

Let us find a way to bring Durant hall back to Life. Direct our energies to making it a positive symbol of the campus that knows how to make something wonderful out of such a tragedy.

Jonathan Winters is the facilities supervisor of family housing for RSSP. Reply to [email protected]

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