As we enter this last full week of classes, where has the semester gone? At one point it seemed that snow and cold weather would never end, and then it was spring break, and now it is the end of April. It has been a month filled with countless programs and events on campus.
While most students are gearing up for finals and projects, there is a group that will be embarking on this college journey for the last time — the graduating seniors. Whether it is those receiving an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, a doctorate or a degree in Veterinary Medicine, or it is their first or their third graduation, this time is filled with a lot of angst and reflection. For some, they already have their plans lined up for new academic pursuits in graduate school, for the start of a new phase with relationships or for new career opportunities.
As I’ve encountered graduating students over these past few weeks, they ponder where the time went, and there is a sense of not wanting to leave just yet. Often times as students, we go through the motions of going to class and working on projects without taking the time to pause and observe the surroundings. The same is true for faculty and staff as daily tasks and challenges consume us.
Take for example this month of April, as the campus has been the site of major events each weekend. It started with Easter weekend and a number of religious observances that took place, then Relay for Life and the International Street Fair, followed by the April 16, 2007, remembrance, the Big
Event and Gateway. This past weekend, there was the spring game and Ut Prosim Weekend. I suspect that there were other events that I was not aware of that also took place. If we were to add the number of visitors that the campus had during this period of time, the numbers would easily hit hundreds of thousands.
One of the special places that served as a venue for many of these efforts was the Drillfield. As new members to the university community, we learn right away that the Drillfield is the symbolic heart of the university. We learn that there are streams that run underneath the Drillfield. We also learn the significance of the trees that are planted around the area and the five sidewalks that cross it.
Recently, the Drillfield has been on my mind as I ponder the events that this location has experienced over time. Clearly this spot of land has seen its share of triumph and tragedy dating back to even before the first inklings of Virginia Tech. The oldest connection is that of the rich military history with the corps of cadets and the role the Drillfield has played for this group.
In the wintertime, it becomes the site of the infamous snowball fight. In the spring, summer and fall, it becomes a haven for community sports like football and soccer.
It has served as a venue where the community has gathered together to protest situations from budget cuts to the Vietnam War to concerns about the environment, or as a way to say thank you. It has also served as a place for evacuations in times