TO THE EDITOR:
Over the past few years it has become very evident that Miami has little desire to preserve its beautiful campus that has made it so famous. For an institution that prides its self on history and tradition, we seem to be throwing it to the wayside in the name of new and flashy things in hopes that they would draw in more students (ask any second year who has to live in overflow housing this year if they think we have a numbers problem). It’s no secret that these flashy new buildings and landscape projects are popping up everywhere, but I wonder how many times we stop and consider, “is this what we actually want?”
Though the constant construction and closures are a hassle to live with, I think that most people keep their mouths shut about it because in the end we stand to gain from it. Sometimes it’s a bigger dorm room, sometimes it’s air conditioning, sometimes it’s just a new place to hang out. Through it all, there is one project on the boards that really sticks out to me: the demolition of Withrow Court.
No matter how hard I dig, I can’t find any real benefit to this project. All of the other destruction on campus has been in the name of something bigger and better. Pristine fields and a Frisbee golf course gave way to huge new dorms in an ideal location on campus. The crowded basement of Shriver gave way to a colossus designed to seduce students into enrolling. Even looking back a few years, a historic dorm, deeply embedded into Miami’s past gave way to a much needed home for the business school. But after the oldest and largest of all of these, Withrow Court, is demolished, where is our happy ending? Where is our hundred million dollar edifice constructed to lure students to an already overcrowded university? It seems as if we won’t be getting one.
Withrow Court, built in 1931 will be demolished in the summer of 2016 and its site will be left vacant. Sure the baseball team is getting a new couple million dollar locker room and there are talks of a new tennis center soon to be popping up but what about the rest of us? What about all the other programs that don’t get multimillion dollar budgets from the university? Where are we supposed to go?
Now, I have to admit that I am a little biased on this issue. I am a member of the rowing team and we call Withrow Court home when the waters of Acton Lake are unrowable. We keep our equipment in a shared closet with the club football team and get to use the upstairs hallway as our practice space. It’s not ideal, but at least it’s there.
The building is so tightly scheduled that the only available space for us to use is a hallway. Yet we’re tearing it down without replacing it. After this year every program housed in Withrow court will have to find a new home. Do you like playing basketball at the rec? Well too bad because pretty soon it will be all reserved for intramural and club games. And good luck trying to gain access to any of the Varsity athletic facilities, they’re off limits to 99 percent of the students. Phillips Hall is already booked all day with kineisiology classes.
It seems like the best option the rowing team will have is the possibility of using a tiny room on the site of the old Tallawanda High School for a few hours a week. Say goodbye to daily practices. Forget being able to offer two practices a day.
I am writing this sitting in the balcony of the main gym at Withrow. There’s no air conditioning, most of the lights don’t work, and there’s a puddle on the ground from where the roof leaked in the rain last night. Yet, in a few minutes, I’ll have to find a new quiet place because the gym will be filled with club sports practices, intramurals, and pick-up games. It is probably in the worst shape out of any building on campus, yet it is still constantly in use.
It all brings me back to my original question: what do we stand to gain from demolishing Withrow Court? Over the past 84 years it has quite possibly been the most used building on campus. From varsity basketball games, to early morning practices, dance marathons and even a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama, Withrow Court has been at the center of it all. It’s hard enough to watch the history and natural beauty of our university demolished on a daily basis, but at least when we’re getting something new out of it I can bite my tongue. It’s when we start throwing out the old just so we don’t have to deal with it that Miami will truly lose its history that we are so proud of.