The arts campus seems like a faraway, mystical place to many students here at HWS, but for 21 percent of the student population it is a very real part of each week. Anyone who has taken a class there knows that it is not at all mystical and, indeed, very far away.
The campus consist of three buildings: Houghton House, Carriage, and Elliott. Houghton House is home to the art history and architecture students and professors, as well as the Davis Gallery. The house is also where many mandatory and extra credit lectures and events are held.
Carriage belongs to the video and photography students and professors and also contains a computer lab, black room, printing room and photography studio. Elliott hosts all studio art classes as well as the materials and tools needed for each medium: painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture.
About 500 students took at least one class on the arts campus during this school year, and there are currently 193 architecture, art history, and studio art majors or minors at the school. While the campus is beautiful, the classes great, the supply of materials and tools ample, and the professors awesome, there are several unfortunate issues these students are forced to endure. Several are issues that I, as a senior studio art major, am frankly sick of.
One can get to the arts campus a few different ways: the shuttle (which runs from 7:42 p.m. to 12:42 a.m. on weekdays and a little later on weekends), a car, a friend’s car, a bike, or a nice long walk. A student walking or biking can reach the campus via either end of a one-way road called Kings Lane. The lane begins on South Main Street, winds through some woods, and brings you to campus. It then moves past Houghton House, Carriage, and Elliott, is a straight shot through more woods, and exits onto Jay Street, which Pulteney Street adjoins. The walk to any of the three buildings from main campus is a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes.
This time-consuming commute is a big issue for those students with back-to-back classes and only ten minutes to get from class A to class B. Students with a class on the arts campus followed by a class on campus, or vice versa, are forced to sprint from one to the other or be late. Arts campus professors are occasionally nice enough to “unofficially” push back the start of their class, due to the number of students who are simply unable to make it there on time.
The elements add a whole next level of difficulty. On a lucky day, pleasant weather can make the walk almost enjoyable. However, during the cold rainy months of the fall and the freezing snowy months of the winter, the walk is downright nasty. During the especially cold or icy days of the winter the walk can even be dangerous. Some days you will arrive to class without any feeling in your face, hands or toes. Injuries to oneself or one’s artwork occur frequently due to slipping and falling on ice. To make matters worse, there is no sidewalk, walkway, bikeway, or path other than the one-way road in and out of the campus. Not even a crosswalk exists for students to safely cross Jay Street from Pulteney. When the winter season strikes, piles of snow push students from the side of the road into walking down the middle.
During any season, walking to campus at night can be unnerving, as the roads are dimly lit and surrounded only by dark forest; a walk alone at night is very lonely. Animals such as deer, skunks, fox and raccoons are frequently spotted around the area and make lonely walks at night all the more undesirable. One single emergency blue light is located on the campus, in the middle of the exiting stretch of Kings Lane. Students are able to call Campus Safety for escort rides to and from campus when they do not wish to face the cold, the ice, the dark, or dangers of no sidewalk to get to class or get some homework done. However, it is an unpredictable 15- to 30-minute wait for the ride to get to you.
Studio art and architecture classes are three-hour periods twice a week and can demand anywhere between 12 and 20 hours of work outside of class. Moreover, 95 percent of this homework can only be done at the arts campus because of the material, tools, and space needed to accomplish studio art and architecture tasks. Between the long walk, long classes, and many hours of homework, just one class at the arts campus can be very time consuming. Especially in consideration of a single student’s other commitments: other classes, sport team practices and games, club activities, lectures, relationships, jobs, sleeping, food, etc.
On top of this demand of time, studio classes are often physically demanding as well. Whether it be welding, woodworking, molding clay, chiseling away at plaster, building architectural models or standing in front of a drawing or painting for hours at a time, class and homework can be as physically exhausting as it is mentally. Yet, because of the circumstances of the long walk and the need to be on the campus to complete homework, many arts campus students are forced to go without food or rest for extended periods of time. Students are often forced to take public naps on couches and make meals out of Funyuns and pretzels from the vending machines.
It’s obvious that not all of this can be changed or bettered. I don’t expect Geneva winters to suddenly improve or the school to begin rounding up all the raccoons in the area. The distance of the walk cannot be shortened and the demands of art classes cannot be lessened. However, the street lamps can be brighter. More blue lights can be located on the campus. The shuttle can make more frequent stops. More time can be scheduled between classes from the main campus to the arts campus. A sideway can be built. A small café can be located on the campus. That’s all I’m asking.