Is a Sprinkler System on the Greens Necessary?

To the College Community:

I am writing in response to the irrigation system that has been installed on the Townhouse Greens.  Although the system may improve campus aesthetics, it runs counter to many of the ideals that we purport to hold as a campus community.  Saint Mary’s College has consistently made a concerted effort to control tuition in the interest of providing a high quality education at an affordable price.  In the current economic conditions, it seems that the College should be making every effort to control spending and cut costs on all non-essential projects.  That being said, it seems to me that the irrigation system is in no way essential and in fact perhaps detrimental.

The benefits an irrigation system are limited to certain circumstances such as graduation and River Concert Series, both of which do not serve to improve students’ educational experiences at Saint Mary’s. Both events occur when the vast majority of undergraduates are not on campus and therefore benefit very few students. Those in attendance are less concerned with the quality of the landscape and more concerned with the quality of the performance or celebration that they have come to participate in. This is not to say that the River Concert Series and graduation ceremonies do not contribute the overall atmosphere of Saint Mary’s, but instead those in attendance are not concerned with the triviality of the quality of grass under foot.

Environmental policies designed to protect the Saint Mary’s River and the larger Chesapeake Bay area have been largely supported by the student body and lauded by administrators as reflecting students’ overall conscientiousness.  Green initiatives have been widely accepted as necessary to sustainable development, and this eco-friendly atmosphere is part of what defines Saint Mary’s. If and when there is a specific need to irrigate the Townhouse Greens, this can be facilitated with the use of temporary installation systems, rather than a costly permanent system.

Beyond the reasons above, the irrigation system is representative of a deterioration in the accountability that the students feel in maintaining their community and the communication between the administration, Buildings and Grounds and the student body. The fact that the administration did little to notify the students of the plan and only did so when construction was slated to begin is indicative of a breakdown in these lines of communication. If administrators had outlined their concerns and intentions of installing an irrigation system, students would have had the opportunity to make a concerted effort to reverse their destructive behavior that has continually compromised the appearance of the greens and our campus as whole.

-Madeline Eberhardt ’08 is currently an MAT student

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