Number 12 Night Editor: David Spurr
October 12, 1969
"It is not inconceivable
that students be allowed
to take part in making
decisions and s o l v i n g
problems pertaining to
t h e i r physical environ-
ment, from the elms on
the Diag to the food serv-
ice problems in their
"Outside this univer-
sity lies a world being
destroyed by insensitive
p e o p I e manhandling
t h e i r environment. It
doesn't have to be like
that. Smoothly function-
ing, h e a l t h y environ-
ments can exist, but they
can only be built by peo-
ple who learn early that
they are responsible for
the condition of the phy-
SOMETIMES IT SEEMS there is a special kind
of magic directing the affairs of this Uni-
A. hole appears mysteriously in the middle
of a sidewalk. It ripples backward and forward
from its starting point like a double chain of
falling dominoes, engulfing buildings enroute.
Until finally, its purpose apparently accom-
plished, it is covered with sidewalk again.
Last year such a hole appeared one day in
front of Angell Hall, and burrowed quickly in
both directions until it reached from Hill Aud.
to Alumni Hall.
The immensity of this hole impressed many
people, despite a general uncertainty as to its
origins and purpose. The explanation turned
out to be deceptively simple.
This hole was part of a series of holes that
had been the by-products of four y e a r s of
Three years ago, to forstall annual spring
flooding caused by melting ice and s n o w, a
drainage system was put in, and with it an un-
derground sprinkling system.
Meanwhile, a program for replacing diseas-
ed elms was resulting in more holes, although
of a less conspicuous size, as diseased t r e e s
were dug up and new ones planted.
Unfortuntely, in the process of diggingt up
the trees, some of the drainage pipes were also
dug up, and the holes lingered on while the
damage was repaired.
Then last y e a r, a major overhaul of the
heating lines produced the last great hole de-
scribed above. As more buildings were added to
existing lines, the ones at the end began to
complain of a shortage of heat.
Therefore, a new high pressure steam line
was constructed along the path of the hole to
heat the lISA Bldg', West Qiad, ad the Ad-
But last fall and winter, lew of the people
who were wading through the mud in front of
Natural Science and lamenting the loss of the
lawns in front of Ange Hall appreciated, or
even knew, that their sacrifice was for a wor-
Then this summer the last phase of this ex-
tensive campus renewal project began. Ai;ea
murders stimulated campus security to instal
a bright new mercury vapor lighting system.
Because the lights are strung on continuous.
wires laid in trenches underground, another
set of holes was required.
And since the ground was so generally torn
up, it looked like a good time to repair side-
walks that had cracked or were not draining
,OTHING REMAINS NOW of these numerous
projects but to finish resodding the r a w
tops of the last holes. And w h e n the lawns
grow back, it will be the end of a agificent
example of how one thing can lead to another,
enviroment ally speaking.
At the University, as everywhere, the lives
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the need to emphasize man as an involved, and
even dominating, factor in these relationships.
According to John Russell, a graduate of
the Natural Resources School working in the
field of conservation, "We must go from an
idea of man outside the environment, preying
on it, to the idea of man as part of a unit, in-
teracting with natural resources, in harmony
with them, like a man in a space capsule."
UMAN ECOLOGY, then, studies the way hu-
man bw in )s affect their environment, in-
cluding both the natural world and man-made
additions to it, and the way they are in turn
affected by it. This process is so endlessly com-
plicated that the complete consequences of al-
inost anything man does to his environment
are impossible to predict.
For example, people throw trash in the Hu-
ron River during the spring and watch it sink
to the bottom. But t h e y neglect to consider
that in fall, when the water level drops and
the bottom becomes visible, their actions will
have backfired in a heap of sodden junk, en-
raging the landscape.
The University faces the same problem in
integrating its physical environment and its
human populations as any o t h e r ecological
Its physical environment centers around
the buildings, parks, and streets of its three
campuses. Its human population is composed
of faculty, students, administrators, employes,
and a few transients from Ann Arbor. Togeth-
er they give the University a unique ecological
ATTERNS OF interaction between man and
the world around him are most easily not-
ed when they take the form of conservation
problems, pitting man's technology against the
preservation of his natural resources and his
Consider, for example, the extent to which
the conflict between man and t h a t symbol
of technology, the automobile, has affected
Traffic has been largely rerouted to the out-
side of the campus area by means of such
joint city-University projects as the expan-
sion of Forest and the closing of North and
East University. The corner of East University
and South University used to get more than
30,000 cars a day, and the pedestrian never
had a chance.
The plan, according to University Planner
Fred Mayer, is to have a traffic area that
turns into a parking area which in turn gives
onto a pedestrian area. The parking structure,
like the one by the new dental building, then
acts as a sort of buffer zone between traffic
On the other side of the car-people con-
flet, the University's prize example of pe-
destrian preservation is the overpass that
links North University to the dorms on the
little dirt footpath there that we knew would
be getting more traffic as soon as the new
Modern Languages Bldg. is opened. Obviously
there was a need for a sidewalk."
THE STUDENT'S most direct contact with his
environment is on the Diag, which indulges
the back-to-nature impetus of hundreds of
The Diag's lawns are meant for people to
use. The chains around them are not intended
to keep people off the grass; but only to pro-
tect new seedings and to prevent mass corner-
cutting. Planners stress that wandering, sit-
ting, and lying on the grass is encouraged; it
is only perpetual mass transit over the same
spot of ground that causes damage.
University Architect Ken Wanty explains
that the developmental concept for the Diag
is to "retain the canopy of trees and keep
eye-level viewing spaces open."
"We provide good lawns and trees," Wanty
continues, "and let students and their activi-
ties and signs and so forth provide the color."
The presence of people on its does seem to give
the Diag its essential character; the flow of
movement and activity there is as much a
part of the ecological Diag as the trees.
Maintaining good lawns and trees against
the ravages of human use and environmental
enemies is the underlying conservation prob-
lem faced by the University.
Chief among environmental enemies is, of
course, the Dutch elm disease. A program of
special care that involves spraying twice a
year, fertilizing, deep watering, and judicious
pruning has kept campus losses to a minimum.
But excessive use of DDT and other hard
pesticides used to treat this disease is known
to have a lethal effect on birds, so planning
officials have had to resign themselves to
some dead elms. A variety of other trees,
mostly maples and oaks, is being replanted to
avoid future dependence on a single species.
Central to the maintenance of greenery
on the Diag is the underground sprinkler sys-
tem. There seems to exist a slight sprinkler-
people conflict resulting from the fact that
people walking late at night have occassion-
ally gotten drenched.
Mayer acknowledges these complaints add-
ing, "Why is it that when the sprinklers are
turned on in the spring, they always seem to
miss a vice-president by three inches?" Plan-
ners point out, however, that things could be
worse. At Notre Dame., sprinklers.are on all
with the creative and imaginative use of
human and natural resources to build
a quality environment.
Nominal responsibility for these problems
lies with the Office of University Planning.
People here are supposed to "generate ideas
and recommendations for the physical devel-
opment of the campus, as well as integrating
new projects like the proposed Psychology
Building into the existing community," May-
Development of central campus is cur-
rently being based on a 1963 planning study
which established a framework around which
the campus could grow without destroying its
It identified five sub-campus areas having
certain characteristics which set them off
from the rest of the community and recom-
mended that these be developed as distinct
and coherent functional units.
These sub-campuses can be roughly des-
cribed as an administrative area, including
West and South Quads; a professional area
made up of the Law School, the b u s i n e s s
school, and the art school: an entertainment
area bounded by the Rackham Bldg, the
League, Hill Aud, and Frieze; an area for life
and behavioral sciences including the dental
school, the health service, and the future psy-
chology building; and an area for the phy-
sical sciences running from East Med to West
These clusters of related buildings are giv-
en a central focus by the use of landscaped
areas of open space between them. Regents'
Plaza and the revolving c u b e make the ad-
ministration area hang together, and the
proposed East University mall will catalyze
the mottley array of physical science build-
Open space on campus serves a definite
purpose in combating the urban claustro-
phobia caused by the massive concrete build-
ings growing up on all sides.
Architect Wanty explains, "We're trying to
keep the eye-level views open, like that long
view from the Graduate Library to Rackham."
Several new buildings, including Physics and
Astronomy, the addition to the G r a d u a t e
Library, and the future dental library, have a
first floor raised on stilts to leave the ground
The University's most notable open area is
the Diag. It gives a feel of space and a focus
of activity to a predominantly urban campus,
situated on a finite piece of land and sur-
rounded by ninety-degree streets.
THISURBAN setting has undoubtedly been
responsible, at least in part, for the hyper-
active, intent character o fthe University's
In many cases, however, urban necessity
has been adapted to the natural environment.
the natural contours of the land, built a long
central plane behind the Commons, and add-
ed the Music School pond.
All the major buildings on North Campus
are made of the same brick, called North
Campus blend, as the Music School. Even the
bus stop matches. Roads curve to follow the
contours of hills and woods, as efficiency
finally gives way to esthetics.
Bursley people have always claimed to be
a little different from residents of central
campus; if they are, the reason almost cer-
tainly lies in their differing environment.
HUMAN BEINGS can have a quality exist-
ence if only they are willing to demand
it. The resources of earth can support a
population of anywhere from 30 to 60 billion
people, depending on how frugally its citizens
are willing to live.
John Russell explains, "It is a question of
sensitizing people to their environment, an
educational process that needs to begin in
kindergarten. People have the right to lead
a quality existence, but if they don't care
enough to act now, they will soon lose their
freedom to choose the kind of environment
The University environment is carefully
planned and maintained, and not likely to
fall apart in the near future. But one wonders
at the degree of sensitivity being acquired by
its human population.
Although no students are deliberately de-
structive, there are some indications that they
feel little responsibility for the quality of their
Littering is a bigger problem now than ever
before, despite the distribution of more trash
cans, and vandalism, especially spray painting
on delicate, difficult-to-clean walls, continues
to be a popular, if sick, prank.
There has furthermore, been no agitation
for a student role in developing University en-
vironmental policy; and if one can assume
that when students care, they agitate, it then
appears they do not care.
Or perhaps they do not notice. Dr. William
Stapp, head of Resource Planning and Conser-
vation in the School of Natural Resources, ex-
plains, "Larger communities yield a feeling of
apathy and hopelessness among their citizens.
Involvement depends on building closer work-
ing relationships between institutional ar-
rangements and people so that their voices
can be heard by policy makers."
OUTSIDE this University lies a world being
destroyed by insensitive people manhan-
dling their environment. It doesn't have to be
like that. Smoothly functioning, healthy en-
vironments can exist, but they can only be
built by people who learn early that they are
responsible for the condition of the physical