It’s not me, it’s you

Spinnaker

Walking along the Green earlier this semester I came to a horrifying realization: I am old.

Maybe not by most standards, but in the eyes of UNF, I’m reaching my expiration date at the ripe old age of 23.

This newfound awareness put my mind on rewind, and I reminisced about “the good ole days” when I was just a silly freshman, blundering through UNF’s brick hallows and grassy grounds.

Our once-quaint college turned into a full-blown university in my time – minus a football team – expanding not just its student body, but the number of buildings, professors and majors. I monitored the demolition of the former math and logistics building from the third floor of the Library, the raising of our wise friend Gandhi and the much-anticipated resurrection of Wackadoo’s as the Boathouse.

The Student Union’s construction was by far the most intrusive and exciting project to take place during my time here — right behind the Starbucks invasion.

During my sophomore year, the row of oak trees and trailers beside the Arena Parking Garage, over 100 parking spaces and the spunky old bar and grill were fenced off. The wooden boardwalk between the lake and the health building became a hallway, sandwiched with fences draped in black fabric.

I often peered through the holes, trying to get a peek at the action.

The erection of the modern mega structures, east and west, caused quite a commotion. And the hype swept me up like many others. But now I see the aftermath — the evil those two silver-clad structures have caused.

The first time I visited UNF, I was with my parents for a campus tour during my senior year of high school. I remember the overwhelming feelings of joy and serenity. I fell in love with the plethora of pine trees, old, brick buildings and tranquil ponds.

Three other universities accepted me, but I didn’t visit any of them. I was certain UNF was the school for me.

And I was right. I spent many afternoons napping on the Green and soaking up sun with new friends. Between classes, people gravitated toward the large grassy area. They brought footballs, Frisbees and sheets; they gathered around, submersing themselves in the college lifestyle. The sounds of laughter and giddy chatter filled the air.

The Green was the center of campus life. We thrived there together, we gladly interacted with strangers, and we closely observed the world around us.

Now the Student Union is the center of campus. But we don’t thrive there together; rather, we evade one another. We try to slip through tables of advertisements and products unnoticed, and we avoid making eye contact with students passing out event fliers.

The new center of campus is nothing more than a passageway, flooded with hustling students grabbing a quick meal before class; entrepreneurs trying to swindle us of our last dime; and mainstream music overriding interaction.

I came to UNF because it was a sanctuary. It offered a comfortable place to relax and to grow. There was camaraderie and curiosity. There was happiness and peace.

I’m glad I’m reaching my expiration date. I’m disappointed in what the school has become — just another money-centric, shallow, mainstream, corporate entity; complete with all the Ken dolls and Barbies to populate it.

UNF: “No one like you, no place like this.”