Sam Landstra — Staff Writer
In the course of an average week, countless Dordt students and faculty stroll through the 100-foot skywalk connecting the Science and Technology Center to the Campus Center en route to classes, the library, or a quick bite at the Grille.
But they shouldn’t.
The Dordt University skywalk is pointless and wasteful. I abhor it, and so should you.
Among assorted expansion projects and renovations, the skywalk doesn’t make sense. I conducted a small study measuring the average time and distance the skywalk saves an individual traveling from the Science and Technology Center to the Campus Center. In an average of five trials, the skywalk takes approximately 23 seconds and 45 steps to traverse, while the “old” way finishes at 25 seconds and 50 steps. That’s a near undetectable difference of 2 seconds and 5 steps in favor of the skywalk.
Due to the underwhelming variation between these two walking paths, the sole advantage the skywalk provides is protection from the elements. But let’s be honest here, if you can’t handle rain, wind, snow, temperatures well below freezing, and other weather phenomena my fellow Midwesterners call “Tuesday,” then you shouldn’t have gone to college in Northwest Iowa.
In any matter, apart from the beginning and end weeks of the academic year when Dordt isn’t covered in snow, students make outdoor treks from their dorms to other buildings on campus in a harsh winter environment. I lived in North Hall my freshman year and my hair, still damp from showering, repeatedly froze on the way to breakfast at the Commons. Keep in mind, this distance pales in comparison to the near quarter-mile hike freshman and sophomore girls make on their way to class from Covenant Hall. 50 steps inside a heated suspended tunnel fails to alleviate this inconvenience.
Perhaps Dordt University ought to take their cue from rival Calvin College who constructed a necessary and logical skywalk over a four-lane, divided highway in order to connect their campus. A short trip north of state lines, University of Minnesota Twin-Cities took legitimate steps in providing six miles of weather-insulated commutes to their students with a vast network of underground and elevated tunnels. In comparison to these impressive passageways, the Dordt skywalk falls to the embarrassing wayside. But please, Dordt Administration, don’t take this comparison as a reason to build a better skywalk.
Because the impracticality of the skywalk is not what condemns it. The true issue of the structure is its $700,000 price tag. Yes, you read that correctly. Nearly a million dollars went toward an over-glorified covered bridge which, as a reminder, saves students an average travel time of two seconds. Although it was generous donors who signed on the dotted line rather than Dordt students in the form of a tuition spike, such a hefty sum of money could have been directed toward other more fruitful measures. East Campus apartments flood every time it rains for more than two days, North and East Hall lack air conditioning, and don’t get me started on Dordt Wi-Fi. During the process of writing this exposé, I was forced to relocate from my dorm and into Eckhardt lounge because East Hall Wi-Fi lacks the capability to perform a simple Google search. And, forgive my boldness on this one, but dare I say $700,000 could be used to raise the salary of professors?
With all this in mind, are you a bad person for walking through the skywalk, pleasantly unaware of the ideology you support in doing so? No. None of us knew any better.
Yet those who don’t learn from their history are bound to repeat it.
On the quiet, southern edge of campus stands the 4th Avenue Theatre, recently completed over the summer. A current home for the Dordt University Theatre Department, the building will eventually transition into a space for Pro-Tech students, accompanied by the addition of a skywalk connecting the facility to the nearby Science and Technology Center.
Did you catch that?
Dordt University plans to construct another skywalk, another ineffectual innovation, another disregard toward relevant needs of the campus. The slightest chance of this outcome demands an adverse response from those who possess a vested interest in the future of this fine institution. Students of Dordt University: just don’t use the skywalk, allowing its impracticality to ring true. Donors: specifically request your charitable gifts away from the skywalk and toward valuable needs of the campus. We collectively hold the key to the development of Dordt University. Let’s use it wisely.