Wednesday, March 05, 2008

COLUMN: Augie

I hate change.

As nifty as progress can tend to be sometimes, there's overwhelming comfort to be found in the familiar. That's why my living room pretty much looks the same as the day I moved in. That's why my closets brim to the brink of structural failure with junk that I simply refuse to throw away. That's why, if I ruled the world, "Frasier" and "Friends" would be forced by law to remain on the air forever. Change is for the birds.

Unless, of course, the change comes with some sort of necessary and/or super awesome technological advancement. My old entertainment center, for instance, had loads o' sentimental charm -- until I got my hi-def widescreen installed, and that's the exact moment it lost its charm.

So change is bad... unless said change happens to be awesome, in which case I'll let it slide. I realize that it's a somewhat childish approach to life. I should be encouraging and accepting of change. But I'm okay with living in a routine if the routine is comfy. That's why each day I drive the same route to and from work. And each day, that route takes me past a big ol' heaping pile of change. I could close my eyes and pretend I don't see it, but driving blind could put the welfare of at least 2-5 freshmen in jeopardy.

I'm talking about my alma mater, Augustana College. Yes, from 1988 to 1992, Augie helped mold me into the person I am today. Were it not for those classes I took, I might not have this column with which to wax poetic on a weekly basis. And were it not for those classes I skipped, I might have the knowledge and fortitude to find something better to do with my life. Yes, I owe it all to those hallowed halls of learning.

Too bad, then, that I can barely recognize the place today. Augustana is the Michael Jackson of academics: the tunes are still pretty wicked, but the face is newer every year. Homecomings get weirder and weirder as we realize just how much the place has changed.

The dorms have internet. Some of them even have air conditioning. In my day, the internet was a new-fangled curiosity only found in the dungeons of the campus computer labs. And as for air conditioning? I remember my roommates and I being threatened by an irate clerk when we paid for $4 of gas in pennies, all for the luxury of driving around in an air-conditioned car for a couple of hours.

And what of Augie's historic Carlsson Hall? Well, drive down 7th Ave. and you can see for yourself. They've gutted the former dormitory and are remodeling the beast into classrooms. In its place, last year Augie opened Swanson Commons, an uber-dorm of modern living that's so nice, I frankly wouldn't mind living there now.

Plus there are Transitional Living Areas where the kids can play My First Apartment, a couple new science buildings, the rec center... it's a different world. Even the college center snack bar -- once home to flimsy tables hosting smoky-aired, marathon card games -- now has booths. BOOTHS, I TELL YOU! These kids have it so good these days.

Which is why, of course, the alumni are trying to stop it. I logged onto Myspace the other day to a frightening message: "SAVE THE AUGUSTANA QUAD!" I clicked to find a letter-writing campaign in its infancy. Augie has plans to erect another new building -- a student center -- and this warning stated that they were going to stick it square in the middle of the school's park-like outdoor quad.

I called one of my fellow dorm-dwellers from back in the day: a kid named Kirby Winn, who now happens to be Augustana's Director of Public Relations. Kirby informed me that yes, Augie IS building a new student center with an optimistic 2010 completion date. But NO, it's not going smack in the middle of the quad. After consulting with the architectural and campus planning firm of Sasaki Associates, they've decided to build into the hillside southwest of Andreen Hall.

Kirby says he envisions the new student center to be a "sixteen-hour-a-day hang-out space," and I'm down with that. Best of all, it will probably mean a new home for WAUG. Did you even know that Augie had a student radio station? Probably not -- unless you live in the dorms, the only way to pick it up is to be within a block of campus, and it probably wouldn't hurt to cover your whole car in tinfoil beforehand. But the little-station-that-could has had a huge impact in regional radio. Ever listen to Captain Kirk on Q106? Jeff James on Star 93.5? How about Scott Steele, morning guy on Cedar Rapids' top-rated KHAK? They all got their start on WAUG -- and for a short, sweet time from 1990-1992, I was their boss. WAUG currently broadcasts out of a studio roughly the size of my bathroom, and a new student center means an upgrade to something at least the size of a bathroom-and-a-half.

So, sorry Myspace. I'm all for causes, but you guys have this one wrong. Yes, I'm sure a tree or two will lay down its life for the sake of progress, but this one's worth it. If it wasn't for change, Augie would still be one building teaching to Swedish immigrants. The students at Augie need a new hang-out. WAUG needs a new home. This is one change you won't hear me complaining about.

3 comments:

Dav Nowinski (current senior @ Augie) said...

Man, you are really ignorant. The students do NOT need a student center. Besides the large group that protested the building, the general opinion among students was strongly against it as well. We have several locations across campus to hang out and many of us do so off campus anyway. It sounds like you are obviously biased about the center merely because WAUG might put out a stronger signal... Yeah, that's a priority. The administration ignored the students not only on the issue of whether it needed to be built at all, but also as too whether they are to build it "green" in the event that they ignore us (as they did). If you desire to actually understand the situation from the students' perspective, get a hold of Aaron Schroeder. He was one of us that spear-headed the students' protests.
By the way, you should be ashamed of yourself. You have become bitter and ill-informed, old man.

Anonymous said...

actually anyone with an internet connection can listen to WAUG:
http://waug.augustana.edu/
just go the the website and find the streaming audio!

also, you can chat with the DJ's live on AIM! the screenname is "WAUG FM"

happy listening!

Anonymous said...

Wow Dave, way to be a jerk to the alumni! As a student who actually went to the initial planning meetings of this project, I can say that the new student center is quite needed.

If you think the administration ignored the students, then clearly you are not aware if the various surveys sent out to the student body, or the support that the administration received from student government. Students want this, believe it or not. Or at least, they did when this whole thing was started.

By the way, Aaron is a dick who just hops on stuff like this to inflate is ego.

If you want to be mad at the administration, there are plenty of other reasons... plenty of other places you have been "ignored".

It probably doesn't matter, I heard rumors that the project is on hold due to the economy anyway.