July 23, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Chiarelli: Sam Koch’s impact evident in those who knew him best -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Longtime UMass men’s soccer coach Sam Koch dies after two-year battle with sinus cancer -

Monday, July 21, 2014

Southwest evacuated after gas leak -

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UMass Rowing finishes NCAA Championships, ends year ranked No. 21 in the nation -

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Two UMass basketball alums to compete for a lofty prize in The Basketball Tournament -

Friday, May 23, 2014

Commencement Photos 2014 -

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two arrested in relation to series of vandalism -

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Students push for relocation of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health -

Monday, May 12, 2014

Video: No. 14 UMass WLAX ends season in loss to Loyola (MD) -

Saturday, May 10, 2014

No. 14 UMass women’s lacrosse season ends in loss to Loyola (MD) -

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sixth inning rally propels UMass past Dayton 7-2 -

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

McMahon, Ferris and McGovern: Not your usual transfer story -

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Women’s lacrosse defeats Richmond 10-6 to win sixth straight A-10 Championship -

Sunday, May 4, 2014

No. 13 UMass women’s lacrosse knocks off Duquesne 16-3 to reach Atlantic 10 finals -

Friday, May 2, 2014

UMass one of 55 schools currently facing investigation over handling of sexual assault cases -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two thefts reported at library -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Senior Columns 2013-2014 -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

UMass Dining proposes major meal plan changes -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

UMass baseball beats UConn for first time since 2007 -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MTV’s seemingly controversial new show proves to be ‘Faking It’ -

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Realization of the beauty of UMass

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The summer before my freshman year at UMass I was at some family function, a dinner or a funeral or something, and I was talking to a cousin about my plans to attend UMass Amherst in the fall. At first, this cousin, whose actual blood relation to me is so distant as to render it completely tenuous, mistakenly thought I had said Amherst College.

I had grown used to this. In Los Angeles (the small village where I come from), nobody has heard of UMass Amherst, and everyone has heard of Amherst College. Generally speaking, I embraced this. For example, when at a party in Jon Solomon’s dad’s house’s backyard, Jon’s sister’s smoke-show best friend Nicole Meyers-Cohen (she came from one of those hyphenated families) thought I had said I would be attending Amherst College in the fall, I just rolled with it.

“Amherst College in the fall. Yep. Fantastic school, am I right? Hey, so – you here with a boyfriend, or what?”

Of course, when your distant 50-something-year-old hippie cousin mistakenly thinks you’re going to be attending Amherst College in the fall, you correct her: “No, actually I’m going to UMass Amherst. You know, the big state school next door?”

That it was the big state school next door to Amherst College is actually all I knew about UMass before I got here, having never visited the state of Massachusetts – let alone UMass – before showing up that first day in September. So had she ever heard of UMass?

It turns out, as I imagine is the case with older distant hippie cousins, that mine knows something about everything. So of course, she knew all about UMass Amherst. “UMass,” she said in straightforward, I-Came-Of-Age-In-The-60s-And-Thus-Know-Everything-About-Everything snarkiness, “That place is just about the ugliest campus I’ve ever seen.”

Like I said, at that point I had never visited UMass and as such, I was worried. The ugliest campus she’s ever seen? My cousin is cut from that old hippie cloth. You know, the folks who get all worked up that you’re not outside in a public square at this very cold moment protesting a war in the nude. All these people do is visit college campuses selling their knitted and potted goods to impressionable students. A woman like this has clearly has seen a lot of college campuses. If UMass is the ugliest campus she’s ever seen, it must be pretty awful looking.

Well, as my final year at UMass comes to an end, and every walk to class brings back all sorts of warm and fuzzy memories (the first time I skipped a class, the first time I dove into the campus pond), I can say with full confidence that my distant older hippie cousin was wrong.

The UMass campus is beautiful. And I don’t mean beautiful in the way that an old oil tycoon might look at the squalor and filth in which he was raised as possessing some sort of nostalgic beauty because it made him the successful oil tycoon that he is today. Rather, I truly believe our campus is aesthetically beautiful.

Now granted, if you were to pluck some of our buildings off the campus like a single petal plucked off a radiant sunflower in the springtime and place it, say, in a Hadley parking lot, the aesthetic beauty of that single building might not shine through. This can be said of some of the more architecturally brutal buildings on campus – your Machmers and your Campus Centers. Yet these buildings, when placed among the more classically beautiful buildings on campus – your Goodells and your Old Chapels – deliver the same kind of aesthetic beauty one might see in a collage made up of materials found both in a yard of old scrap metal and a yard of abandoned Greek era sculptures, if such a thing exists (and I hope it does).

Then we have buildings like Herter, buildings that would make a perfect backdrop for a movie about Bosnia and Herzegovina. These buildings might strike one, at first glance as being, well, ugly. A building like Herter is not beautiful in the same way the Amherst College Octagon is beautiful. And yes, the interiors of these buildings are often messy. The bathroom walls in these buildings are often covered in amateur graffiti (relieving myself in Herter today, I saw “Remember the Alamo” written in black sharpie and then next to it in faint blue pen: “Remember the what?” and then over that in all caps “DUBSTEP SUCKS”). Yet, a building like Herter, placed next to the grass outside the Haigis Mall and only a short walk away from the campus pond, makes our campus beautiful in a fragmented sense. Beautiful in the way the random circular patterns of ceiling stucco are beautiful or the way the graffiti in the Herter bathroom is beautiful.

And they tell me that on the other side of campus we have truly pretty buildings, buildings made of brick and glass – beautiful, clean, shiny engineering buildings where science students do whatever it is science students do (tons of homework, I imagine). I’ve never seen these buildings.

Perhaps one day I will venture out into the great Northeastern unknown and see one. For now, on my Western edge of campus, I can say I really think this place is beautiful. And just wait until the ducks start having baby ducks. Hey, Amherst College, we get ducklings!

Isaac Himmelman is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached is ehimmelman@student.umass.edu.

 

Comments
3 Responses to “Realization of the beauty of UMass”
  1. David Lenson says:

    Great piece! You can only imagine how beautiful the place is if your office is IN Herter and you don’t have to look at Herter.

  2. Eric Tori says:

    this is great. i agree with this. i think it’s foolish when people don’t see how pretty the umass campus really is.

  3. Julie Breslin says:

    It’s beautiful if you ignore all the brutalist architecture.

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