Green and natural? Not on this campus


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Natalie Hollenbeck

If you close your eyes and visualize walking through the Main Campus, what aspects of our campus would come to mind? For me, it’s the ‘70s-era concrete buildings, tan brick, concrete flooring and brown wood paneling. But, did you visualize any greenery? I didn’t.

The largest concentration of greenery (e.g., trees, shrubs and flowers) on the Main Campus lie tucked away behind the Main Building and the Arts Building; however, the biggest space most individuals would recall is the Sombrilla or HEB Lawn. During the cooler seasons, or during drier weather, several students hang hammocks and take cat-naps off the more mature trees – arguably the best form of stress-relief.

Whether listening to the wind rustle through the trees or taking a peaceful nap under them, it’s hard to ignore the decreasing number of trees on the Main Campus. The stark, dry, stuffy and stressful environment inside the classroom must be complemented with a communal, quiet and stress-free outdoor environment to utilize between classes. While mental health is not the focus of this article, rather it is an example of how more green spaces could benefit students, it should not be overlooked.

With what seems like constant construction taking place on the Main Campus, is UTSA planting more trees or removing them? Since the new Science and Engineering Building under construction replaced faculty parking, more parking was added on the west side of campus to alleviate the commuter spaces that were removed.

Not even a single leaf or fallen flower bud is allowed to lie upon the walkways. If you have ever been on-campus prior to 9 a.m., you’d hear the loud roar of leaf-blowers as staff blow away any fallen leaves or debris. While it makes the campus look well-kept, I wouldn’t mind watching fallen flowers bounce across the ground as the wind carries them away.      

Another quite obvious reason to plant more greenery around campus is cleaner air. By adding more oxygen producers around campus, perhaps we can thin-out the smell of fuel as service vehicles take a shortcut through the heart of the Main Campus.

It’s easy to complain about the results of others’ jobs; however, I understand that adding more greenery will not only cost more but will need additional maintenance staff which will only make the presence of service vehicles more prominent. It’s a vicious cycle but we want only what is the most safe and beautiful for our campus. When removing greenery for a new building, add it back in and around the new facility. On behalf of all the nature-loving, stressed-out, hammock-napping students at UTSA, we suggest more greenery and less concrete-ery.