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Thursday October 5, 2000

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UA Mall, pronounced dead Tuesday, will be missed by all

By The Wildcat Opinions Board

Thanks to a $3 million gift from an unidentified donor and matching UA funds that up the total haul to $6 million, the School of Music and Dance may receive a new state-of-the art performance center. The school still needs to raise $4.5 million before the tentative performance center can get off the ground, and by a tight twist of the purse strings, musicians and dancers only have about six weeks in which to do it. While we cheer the school's efforts to earn a much-needed performance center, we also lament yet another patch of rolling, green Mall lost to construction.

What's the rush? A stipulation of the anonymous gift is that the theater, which will be used by the opera and dance programs, must be ready for opening night by January 2003. To do this, all funding will have to be secure by November. How much easier it would be if the school could pinch the teeniest bit from Campaign Arizona. One of those UA celebrity alumni scheduled to put in an on-campus appearance soon must have an interest in dance or opera and few shiny pennies to spare.

So the crimp in the plans of the School of Music and Dance is clear, but where's the rub for the student body as a whole? Well, it's a small problem, but no issue is too great or too small for opining. And this particular problem centers on a small patch of the Mall to be eaten up by the new theater. Actually, the site of the new performance center is square on top of an old, forgotten swimming pool east of the Ina Gittings building. It's this pool that will be given to the greater cause, and the Mall will only suffer a small wound. The blueprints for the performance center have been drawn to take as little of the Mall as possible.

Still, with the bleeding gash that is the ILC, and the also under-construction Eddie Lynch Athletic Pavillion - a beauty mark on the lip of the Mall - the once pristine face of the Mall is increasingly scarred. We miss that beauty. Not, of course, that all this work is cosmetic surgery for our campus, think of it more as reconstructive surgery. These buildings are needed by performers and athletes and students in general.

But what a price to pay for progress! Couldn't some of this construction money go to, let's see, teacher salaries or hiring new TAs or increased funding for departments that aren't athletic or in the hard sciences? Couldn't we walk across the Mall from the Student Union, which will also need an obit soon, to the Main Library in less than 20 minutes. Couldn't we stand on the back steps of Old Main and look out onto Campbell Avenue? Couldn't we have a class in Modern Languages or Psychology uninterrupted by the song of the jackhammer? Alas, no!

We understand it must be done, change and progress and so on, but it doesn't mean we don't sometimes get nostalgic. Here's welcoming a new performance center, and also bidding a fond farewell to another piece of the Mall.