Braniff: the liver of UD

Students sit near the Braniff fountain, which can double as a great source of white noise while studying. Photo by Kaity Chaikowsky.

Have you ever looked and the wonderful enigma that is Braniff and wondered why it is the way that it is? Obviously, if you are a philosophy major that is pretty much all you do, but that isn’t what I mean. I’m asking why it is laid out the way it is. The fact is, it’s probably due to a number of pragmatic concerns some administrator had. But I’m not satisfied with that answer. If there is anything my liberal arts education has taught me, it is that I should read way too much into this kind of thing. So here goes.

Let’s start in the basement, where the university has deigned to put the education, economics, and Rome departments. I suppose it’s pretty clear why the University of Dallas would want to have the economics department in the basement: when it comes to econ, UD prefers to keep its head in the sand.

The other two are harder to figure, though. In my experience, the Rome program has nothing to do with education, so I don’t see why they are in such close proximity. Maybe you are supposed to get educated before you get to Rome? I didn’t do that either.

The first floor doesn’t have much going for it either. It mostly functions as a conduit from the mall to the business building. This arrangement is problematic because the poor business majors are forced to witness people studying on the way to their putting lessons. Trauma.

The second story is an absolute mess. UD has never been a fan of the separation of church and state, but putting the theology department a mere 15 yards from the politics department seems a bit much. To add insult to injury, they put theology in the same corner as history. Is the architect insinuating that theology is a thing of the past?

The top tier, though, definitely takes the cake. Philosophy and English aren’t known for playing nice. Every fall semester there is at least one angry mob of Phil and Eth students that tries to banish the English professors from their “republic”.  In response, the English department members just stick out their tongues and taunt the philosophy students for being damned to limbo. It’s a pretty tempestuous environment up there. I suppose it’s the natural place for them, though. Where else to put the philosophy department than directly above the theology department. Calling the theologians “our friends downstairs” is the best part of any philosophers day. As for English, they needed to be close to the toilets. Where else are they supposed to put the really s**ty papers?

All these criticisms aside, I love Braniff. I love that every time I open the door to the stairwell I almost kill an innocent pedestrian. I love that the writing lab has a convenient ledge to jump off if my paper isn’t up to snuff. I love that my tears are immortalized in an annoyingly loud fountain. I love that there is a beautiful skylight so that my desperate prayers can have easy access to the heavens. I love that I have to choose between ascending to the third floor or descending into the depths of the basement before I can answer nature’s call. In a way, Braniff is the liver of UD: it’s pretty ugly, but it’s where all the work gets done. It wouldn’t be UD without it.


  1. Laura, I wholeheartedly agree. I think it is dismissive to the majors that it attempts to be jocund about, and really reveals that the writer, a juvenile philosophy student, has little appreciation for the core as it was meant to be valued. I think it’s surprising that with other more intelligent and well-spoken undergraduate student contributors, this particular student continues to manage publication. Also, perhaps a grammar-check and a thesaurus would help him out. I expect better from UD News.

    • Dear Judy,
      Allow me to first point out that your reaction to this prime morsel of educated journalism demonstrates exactly the disparity between our beloved establishment of learning and those who have been indoctrinated by its contemporaries outside the “Bubble”. Rather than displaying a contempt for the UD Core Curriculum, this article presupposes a deep faith in and understanding of that institution by its readers, which provides for the ability to laugh at some of its more humorous qualities. By no standard is the UD campus one of the more beautiful in the country, let alone the world. Moreover, there has never been any accusation that the Braniff building does not suit the needs of its occupants. But what does the UD education give us, if not the greater depth of thought that makes humor enjoyable, if not compulsory? The greatest minds have been and are those who do not take themselves too seriously. The deep love and trust within the student body and the faculty, rooted in the curriculum, creates the kind of environment where Philosophy and Theology departments can carry on perennial, jocular (yes, I know that word too) debates over which field of study leads to a better understanding of truth, not because either actually scorns the other. This article is not a mockery of the Core Curriculum, or even Braniff. It is a deeply-philosophical reflection on a beloved building, on the effect that physical surroundings have on the intellect, expressed in a whimsical fashion. Now Judy, I do not know if you were once a student here, but it is apparent to me that you have lost a sense of the spirit of this school. Here at UD, we take pride in our education and in our relationships with peers and professors alike; as a result, we are able to laugh at what is intended to be intellectually humorous and to lovingly poke fun without fear of causing offense. As the Philosopher put it, “Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor.”


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