For the majority of the fall and winter sessions at the University of Manitoba, the scenery outdoors is somber and depressing. In only a month or so the paths outside will become increasingly devoid of human life due to the bone-chilling temperature and ice-covered surfaces. This is the state the campus will remain in until just before your final exams of the winter session. Then right at the tail-end of the semester, spring breaks through and the temperature rises just enough for you to witness a smattering of muddy floods all over campus.
Due to Manitoba’s less-than-welcoming weather during most of the school year, you’ll likely spend most of your time traveling through our white-washed tunnel system. Though these tunnels remain clean, they hardly ward off depressed feelings because there’s just nothing uplifting about them. As tasks in the classrooms get increasingly difficult and stress levels rise, the weather becomes more hostile and the campus feels barren and isolating.
While I’m happy to see a lot of people outside, scampering about campus this time of year, what I’m not sure many students still shaking off their summer realize is how important and special this time on campus is. For most of your time at the University of Manitoba, you’re likely going to try to avoid the outdoors at all costs. Who can blame you when the weather is terrible? Yet right now the plants are given a background role to frosh week parties and drunkenness, even though frosh week co-exists with the brief window when a whole summer’s worth of work can be enjoyed.
This is why, though I enjoy the campus for the brief time it’s in a pristine state, I think more effort should be put into the tunnels at the expensive of immaculate grass.
All summer long groundskeepers work to maintain and beautify the campus in a futile battle against nature. A lot of time, effort and money is used to grow and maintain the plants that are currently visible all over campus. It makes for quite the first impression if you arrive at the university in this brief moment of glory and when it’s truly looking its finest. But what if just a bit more of that time was diverted from the flowers to the tunnels. More potted plants, more murals, or even just some uplifting slogans painted onto the walls. If just a little sprucing up of the tunnels was done each year, then within a few years the campus will move from being very bleak and depressing most of the time to something approaching pleasant.
Of course, bleak winters are a problem for all of Manitoba, but other pleasant green spaces like Assinibone Park get plenty of use throughout the summer and so it can be appreciated for longer. Our campus on the other hand is sparsely populated throughout the summer. This means that the effort put into making the campus nice is not being distributed to where it would be maximally beneficial.
Yet, despite this odd discrepancy, the weather outside right now is beautiful and so is the campus. So while it lasts spend a little extra time enjoying your surroundings and taking in the flowers. The window is so brief it almost feels like a special event. Get your fill now, because four years at this school has taught me that the tunnels can be draining.
Corey King is a motion media artist, writer, student and entrepreneur.