Editorial: Shut out the noise, appreciate your campus

Editorial Board

With the trees just beginning to change color and the wide green lawn of Central Campus abuzz with students and scampering squirrels, the walk from Curtiss Hall toward the old stone columns of Beardshear is breathtaking. The turrets of Catt Hall stand tall above the trees, and the sun casts a long shadow under the historic Campanile.

But it is only breathtaking for those who actually allow themselves to experience it.

Hundreds of students walk this stretch of sidewalk every passing period, jamming along to their iPods, sending text messages and talking on the phone. Out of almost 50 students observed on one bright, September morning, we observed fewer than 10 walking to class unhindered by technology and noise.

We regularly get lost in our own virtual conversations, checking our Facebook updates for the latest photo to “like,” texting friends to tell them our lecture stories, and making sure we aren’t missing something hilarious on Reddit.

We listen to our headphones on our way to class and on our way home, shutting out the people around us with our music and podcasts, and we call friends from building to building, bored by the 12 minute walk between Howe and Hamilton halls.

We are all pros at shutting out the world and our surroundings.

But what we should really be doing is appreciating our award-winning ISU campus.

Iowa State was listed as one of three American Society of Landscape Architects “medallion” sites. And our 20-acre Central Campus was recognized as one of the top 25 most beautiful campuses in the nation, in the book “The Campus as a Work of Art.” We have several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, countless pieces by artists such as Christian Peterson and, of course, a couple of beautiful swans to make our campus awesome.

Iowa State is nationally recognized for its beautiful campanile, home to the Stanton Memorial Carillon. The bells of the Campanile have been ringing since 1898, and continue to play famous tunes every lunch hour, from the classic 1812 Overture to the theme from the popular television show “Game of Thrones.”

We can’t truly appreciate the old bell tower’s version of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” when we’re tuned out, lost in our own music and phone conversations.

Our campus is 490 acres of trees, well-groomed gardens, unique buildings and wildlife.

Another important reason to remain aware of our surroundings on campus is simple: to stay safe. When our fingers are busy tapping away, with our eyes focused on the screen in front of us, rather than the street we’re crossing, we become a hazard to traffic. When we’re silently jamming out to Daft Punk, we can’t hear the biker coming up from behind or the CyRide bus motoring up the road to our right.

And during those late night walks back to our dorm room, if we’re too deep in a phone conversation or scrolling mindlessly through our Facebook newsfeed, we won’t notice the family of raccoons watching quietly from the side of the road.

Before the invention of earbuds and cellphones, people talked to each other on their way to class; they walked with friends and classmates. Or, they listened to the world around them, taking in others’ conversations, and using those few precious moments between lectures to clear their heads and think.

Spending a few extra minutes each day to appreciate the beauty of our land-grant university or simply taking the time to mentally prepare for the rest of the day would be beneficial for all of us. We are seizing every opportunity we can to distance ourselves from the magnificence of Iowa State’s campus, from its historic buildings and immense acreage to the campanile’s resounding song.

To really value our time at Iowa State, we need to start shutting the noise out — and letting the world in.