Students returning to Swat may have noticed numerous changes (other than all the new faces) from last semester. Here is a look at the changes around campus:
Trees: Many students may have noticed that the space between Trotter and Beardsley may have been looking a little emptier since they left in the spring. This is because two old Red Oak trees were cut down. For the past six years they had been dying because of infected scorch, which attacks the vascular system of the plant; the unusually hot summer combined with a lack of rain accelerated this process. Director of Grounds Jeff Jabco said that they had been cutting down the dead branches, but it had reached the point where had they kept trimming the branches, there simply would have been nothing left. In anticipation of this loss, however, a sugar maple tree was planted several years ago, as well as a grove of red maples that will now have more room to grow. In addition, over the summer the Scott Arboretum intern painted the Oak tree next to Trotter red. This gives the tree a nice artistic touch while allowing the dying tree a few more years.
New gravel: Years ago the garden between Parrish and Kohlberg was a quiet green space where professors would occasionally hold classes. When the mail room moved into the north end of Parrish, however, it increased the foot traffic in the north end; soon the northern entrance became significantly more popular, as it was the quickest route between Parrish and Kohlberg. As more and more students traveled through the garden, the space began to wear away; after rainstorms it would become muddy. To combat this, the College first tried redirecting the walkway through various means. When this failed they considered putting in a flagstone pathway; it was decided, however, that a pathway would separate the original design and would ruin it. The College decided to put in stabilized gravel that is made with extract from Eucalyptus trees, which allows the gravel to be firmer. The new gravel, according to Jabco, gives “a nice look with good stability.”
Mullan Tennis Center: This summer the Mullan Tennis Center received new equipment and an all-new layout. Among the equipment additions: four new “power racks” that allow for multiple exercises to be done in one space that would have previously required four or five different spaces; an additional elliptical trainer; two rowing machines; and finally two interactive exercise bikes that have video screens allowing the riders to race each other and even students at other schools.
The new layout at the Mullan Tennis Center was designed to best incorporate the new equipment and give a more logical flow to the exercise machines, as now machines are grouped by type and by the section of the body worked (arms, chest, legs, etc.). As Athletic Director Adam Hertz said, “As a center that serves a number of people who have different fitness needs and desires, we wanted to find a way to address them as well as possible without sacrificing any of the equipment that we already had.” Using feedback and suggestions from students, Hertz says the gym will continue to change and adapt to create “an environment that is welcoming to all, and serves the needs of all who use the center.”
New Television in Sharples: Over the summer, Dining Services discussed how it would be nice to have a television in Sharples to stream campus events, news, sports, and also be used for entertainment. According to Dining Services Director Linda McDougall, “One of the driving thoughts was that Sharples is one of the only large spaces on campus that has 100% backup power for lighting, heat & air conditioning. It is a space where students could gather in case of a power failure.”
ITS: ITS spent the summer upgrading and overhauling many of its features. One of the most noticeable of these changes is the new dashboard, which allows individuals to customize what is displayed, add optional features, and move things around to fit their needs. ITS also added support for Google Apps this summer. Google Apps provides students with Google Docs, which allows students to work together on a document simultaneously. As Director of ITS Gayle Barton said, “By having a Swarthmore instance of Google Apps, you have access to a directory of Swarthmore user IDs, so it’s easy to share your document with people who are part of this community.” In addition to these changes, ITS announced it would transition over the next two years from Blackboard to Moodle, which is a “learning management system” that will provide many of the services of Blackboard but with more flexibility and at less cost.
ITS is also in the process of setting up a Central Authorization Service (CAS) that will allow individuals to sign into multiple services at once simply by signing into CAS. As of right now, the dashboard, Google Apps, and Moodle are all linked up through CAS; Barton said that SwatMail should be included soon.
Finally, Barton is most excited about the installation of computers into podiums. She says that so far the reaction from professors has been positive and so more will be installed in January.
Additional Changes: Several new parking spaces were redone to make them Handicap Accessible, including spots by the Clothier/Parish West circle, the Lang Music Hall, and the Dupont/Rugby parking lot. In addition the pathways by the Mullan Tennis Center are being redone to also make them more accessible to those with disabilities, as part of the College’s long-standing efforts to meet ADA standards.