The University of Dallas, like any other institution, is proud of the honors and recognitions it has been given and plasters them all over its website and admissions handouts. One honor, however, is understandably left out in President Keefe’s welcome speech to freshmen: the dubious honor of being ranked No. 1 for “Least Beautiful Campus” by the Princeton Review.
I’m not going to argue that our campus is a national treasure; it’s not. At the same time, the Princeton Review, which laughably also ranked our school No. 20 for “Stone-Cold Sober” in 2015, is quite simply wrong. Our campus is a beauty. Having travelled to many different campuses in Texas and beyond for track and cross country, I still get excited every time I see the tower at the end of the bus ride.
Walk around and see how green our campus is. It’s easy to take this for granted, but drive for five minutes in any direction and you will see what a veritable oasis the school is. Trees begging to be climbed surround the morning walk to class, grass that is consistently maintained, flowers adding splashes of color to the Mall: we take so much of the flora on campus for granted and forget how uncommon this is for Dallas. Especially on a sunny day, our campus is vibrant.
What about the winter, when the plants are dead, the sky is grey and all one has to look at are the buildings? As with all schools, it is true that the UD campus loses some of its luster in the winter. That is unavoidable. Despite this, there is still much to appreciate, and fresh snow doesn’t look bad on campus.
True, Southern Methodist University (SMU), Santa Clara University, Yale Univeristy, among others, have us beat. We simply don’t have the money to compete. At the same time, the Tower is a sight to behold at night. Haggar, Braniff and Gorman provide a modest but warm surrounding during the walks from class to class. It may not be breathtakingly grandiose, but it’s certainly not ugly. While there is little that can be done about cloudy days, the brown brick façade has a way of soaking up the sun the rest of the time so that the entire Mall feels, as well as looks, sunny. Even those days enshrouded by storm clouds give us the benefit of sitting outside and watching the lighting, something I never get to see back home.
Finally, I would be remiss to ignore the various smaller things that make up our campus. The statue of Aslan by the Art Village. The new shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The hammock-ready trees in front of West Hall. The list goes on. They might not be regularly taken into account for ‘beautiful campus’ tests but they add character and make this a richer campus to be on.
A skeptical Princeton Review employee might chalk this article up to sentimentality: a good experience coloring my view of the location. At the same time, I still have great memories of Greece even though Athens looked like a warzone. Guatemala City is the setting of some of my dearest memories but is still incredibly ugly. My Old Mill apartment is equally home and persistent mess. UD is a beautiful campus, certainly not the most beautiful, but it is still a sight I enjoy seeing whenever I step on campus.