The University of Utah campus is always beautiful, especially during the spring and summer months when fresh grass is laid down, flowers are planted and new banners are hung. The process of beautification picks up during the summer semester, preparing for freshmen orientation when eager new students and their anxious parents are visiting the campus. Prospective students also visit our campus, trying to imagine themselves attending the U in the future.
I have heard my fellow students complain that the administration displays a naked self-interest in making the campus more attractive in order to draw in new students and seal the deal with the students who are already interested in attending. I believe that it is okay for the administration to spend money decorating the campus, even if it is with the ulterior motive of increasing enrollment.
To be clear, I agree that the administration likely puts an emphasis on the appearance of the campus in order to attract students. Colleges sell themselves on promotional material by painting a picture of diverse students smiling and studying on immaculate green lawns. Academic reputation, research opportunities and tuition costs are all important factors in deciding where to go to school, but the emotional pull of visualizing yourself at a charming campus is also powerful. I can’t fault the administration for fulfilling its mandate of increasing enrollment through the surefire method of selling a romanticized version of college life. I do not think that the administration is in the wrong, and I also think that we students can reap the benefits of a gorgeous college campus.
An appealing campus can improve our college experiences. A study from Texas State University found that student use of green spaces at a Texas university improved students’ perceptions of their quality of life. The same study also referenced previous research which found that “students’ perception of their overall academic experience and the campus environment is related to academic accomplishment.” Whether it is by gazing out of a window or studying under the trees outside the Union, taking advantage of the many green spaces on our campus can improve the quality of our college experiences and our academic performance.
Our finely kept grounds, updated buildings and advertisements for campus programs can also improve our school pride. I am always excited to come back on campus at the start of the school year. I love seeing what new programs the administration is sponsoring and how I can get involved on campus. The green spaces help me relax and encourage me to spend time outside before the deep winter sets in. I feel more school pride at the beginning of the year, when everything is fresh and new, than I do at any other time.
Students should embrace the U’s beautiful campus, from the mountainous slopes to the expansive valley views. Hang out on the green lawns, take a nap under a tree, stop and smell the literal roses. Yes, the administration probably beautifies the campus so that they can attract new students and increase enrollment. Even so, we should take advantage of going to school on a campus that is, in my opinion, the most beautiful in the country.