Focus on preserving Augustana’s historic campus landmarks, hangouts


What should President-elect Stephanie Herseth Sandlin accomplish while in office?

Jacob Knutson


As institutions grow, it’s inevitable that components will deteriorate or be destroyed. As technology advances and a larger space is needed, old buildings, especially inflexible buildings comprised of brick and mortar and stone, aren’t able to adapt to the times and are eventually abandoned for greener pastures, where institutions can erect new structures.

Augustana has built plenty in green pastures, and, as expected, appendages have been forgotten. but as President-elect Herseth Sandlin assumes office on Aug. 1, I propose she draft plans to give them the attention they deserve, attention past administrations have withheld.

The first dilapidated monument Herseth should consider revitalizing is our beautiful eyesore, Old Main. Currently it is merely a shelter for bats, mice, squirrels and rabbits, and while I’m not opposed to them taking residency on Augustana’s campus, I do believe Old Main can be much more than a simple harbor for such vagabonds.

For a campus vying for space, it seems foolish to leave prime land vacant. The building space is ripe with possibilities. Old Main can be reinvented into classrooms, study halls, conference rooms, or, heck, why not even convert it into a dorm extension of East Hall?

While lack of funding is the primary handicap, it has never stopped the university before.

In  the last two decades Kirkeby-Over Stadium was built, the Mikkelsen Library underwent an expensive renovation and, just last year, the amazingly pricey Froiland Science Complex was established.

Old Main was one of first and only buildings of Augustana College after it merged with Lutheran Normal School in 1918. It was home to the first classes taught at the school and was home to Augustana’s KAUR radio.

Our history is tied to that condemned critter shelter, and we owe it to our history rejuvenate it. We owe it to our history to ring the Eidsvaag Bell from its tower again. We owe it to our history to clear it of empty beer cans and spent condoms from some promiscuous night.

We also owe it to our history to rejuvenate the Jabberwock. What was once a coffee house and concert venue under East Hall has become a cramped storage space for theater props. While I’m not opposed to stage props, I’ve always thought they were meant to be staged, not stored.

While some argue it’s unnecessary because students already have the Huddle and the Back Alley, I would ask them to try to find a seat on Monday night in the Huddle.

For 22 years the Jabberwock was the place students could smoke pipes, drink cider and discuss campus policy, world politics, the meaning of life or, of utmost importance, the weather. Where, on the weekends, students could see performances from stars like Duke Ellington and other Dixieland jazz combos.

In short, it’s a piece of campus steeped in history, forgotten and besieged by a mishmash of aged stage props and a life-sized, cardboard poster of government professor Peter Schotten.

While these projects are highly expensive, we owe it to where we’ve been and where we’re headed to restore these sections of campus.

Or, at the very least, reclassify them for what they currently are: a varmint nest and a refuse heap.

Jacob Knutson is a sophomore  journalism and political science major from Rapid City, S.D.


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