Our View: Kissing grass

DKS Editors

Summary: Completing the student green may excite the university, but it has underwhelmed us from start to finish.

When Kent State first announced the Student Green project on Sept. 28, 2010, as the Risman Plaza renovation neared completion, not all the reaction was positive. Our editorial board at the time wrote a scathing “Our View,” and the headline summarized it well: “Are. You. Serious.”

“It seems odd that the university would spend $3.5 million to build a college green in a spot that never gets foot traffic,” the Stater wrote.

“We’ve generally supported President Lester Lefton’s renovation goals, but this new college green proposal is unacceptable. No one was denying that Risman Plaza needed a major facelift, but it doesn’t need an expansion. And the fact that this money isn’t coming from the $250 million renovation proposal is just ridiculous.”

Thankfully, the Student Green isn’t as bad as we expected it to be. It eliminated some parking spaces, but the university added more elsewhere to compensate. Plans to include an unnecessary clock tower fell through.

But after watching the official ribbon-cutting Thursday, the celebration still seemed as excessive as the project cost.

Kent Interhall Council president Andy Sokolich touted it as “an additional outdoor space for students to gather,” but it remains generous to predict that area will see much increase in foot traffic. Ironically, a sizable contingent of people watched the ribbon-cutting from afar instead of actually walking to the front of the green.

It’s also strange that the Student Green got a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the Risman Plaza renovations, which were far more important and beneficial, did not.

President Lester Lefton said opening the green is “a historical and landmark day,” which seems grandiose for a green space. Three separate times he mentioned how cool it will look on Google Earth; that should not be a priority.

Two of the stated purposes for the Student Green were to serve as the “front door” to campus for visitors and passersby, and to add programming space for student organizations. Granted, we have to reserve judgment on those criteria until we see how well it serves those purposes, which we hope it does, because it’s here to stay.

But for now, let’s save the congratulations for something worthwhile, like when the new academic buildings are complete. At least those upcoming projects will be a better use of money.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.