Updating the old vs. building anew

St. Kate’s St. Paul campus is home to a wooded area that, at first appearance, might not seem that big. But in fact, the St. Kate’s woods are rather substantial. They cover approximately a fourth to a third of the property. And while they may seem to be  just aesthetically pleasing, they do serve a very important function.

St. Kate's woods are not just aesthetically beautiful, but very crucial to local creatures.

St. Kate’s woods are not just aesthetically beautiful, but very crucial to local creatures.

The wooded area on the St. Kate’s campus is the only wooded area for miles. Small animals live in the forest – not just the squirrels. Raccoon, foxes, birds, bats, and other wildlife could inhabit the woods.
The campus also only has eight residence halls. The most recently built dormitories are Rauenhorst and Morrison which were finished in 2007. Prior to that, the most recent buildings were Alberta and Georgia in 1980. This is a gap of nearly 30 years between the two most recent dorms. There has been much discussion on building a new dorm to accommodate the ever growing freshmen classes that have been coming in recently. Each freshman class for the past two years has been around 400 women or more. The need for a new residence hall is definitely there.
However, there has been discussion recently of demolishing most if not all of the St. Kate’s woods in order to build a new residence hall. Before taking a side, it is important to understand the full impact of demolishing the woods for a new dorm. When land is cleared to build anything, it basically makes that land very difficult to use in the future should that building be taken down. That land cannot grow as fruitfully as it would have before the land was used for development. If the land was wiped down to build a new dorm it would displace all of the creatures that live in it, and they would have to travel quite far to locate a habitat anywhere near as adequate as the St. Kate’s woods.
So if it’s ecologically damaging to build a dorm where the St. Kate’s woods is, what could a possible alternative be?

It has been brought up that some dorms were not meant to be as permanent as they have become. Stanton and Crandall, built in 1968, were supposed to be temporary housing for the influx of freshmen back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. They were supposed to later be torn down and updated. Both buildings were created almost 50 years ago and neither have been updated. If the reason for wanting to build a new dorm is to be able to fit the incoming freshmen, then wouldn’t it only make sense to take down the outdated Stanton and Crandall and replace them with new and improved freshmen dorms? After all, the land that was used to build those dorms in the first place will not be good for growing any future plants anyway, and can only really be used for more buildings. It’s more expensive to demolish a building than to demolish a forest, but that’s only when looking at it in the short term.
What do you think? Do you think St. Kate’s should try to save money and build where the forest currently exists? Or do you think that we should tear down Stanton and Crandall and rebuild new freshman dorms? Let us know your opinions on the subject!

2 thoughts on “Updating the old vs. building anew

  1. The forest at St.Kates is a charished piece of land. It enables St. Kats’s to reduce its carbon footprint while also acting as a filtration system for rain water flowing downhill towards the even more ecologically precious, Mississippi River. The land also provides the science department with valuable sampling sites for student studies. As a St. Kate’s Biology graduate, I can’t begin to describe the importance this area on campus had during my education. It allowed for real scientific sampling experience during ecological studies. The forest inspired class research, developing real experience using the scientific method.

    In addition, the mental health of students may benifit from the forest. The forest had served as a stress reducer, for myself and others, new to an urban setting. The land was comforting to I, an idividual native to forested Northern Minnesota.