New Social Hotspot Takes Over
The start of the 2017-2018 school year was the first time students were able to see and utilize the Paseo de Colachis project. After students and faculty spent the second half of last year navigating closed sidewalks and loud noises, the University of San Diego finally welcomed the newly-renovated plaza.
After months of construction and pedestrian detours, it is no surprise that the campus community welcomed the finished plaza with open arms.
Senior Madison Samuels could not believe the day had finally arrived when the construction was completed.
“I think it’s very beneficial for the campus because it is more of a community now,” Samuels said. “It reminds me of a bigger university, like UCLA, just to have that common meeting space.”
The university added an abundance of tables and chairs throughout the plaza for students to have more interactive spaces in between and during classes.
“Last year, it was tough to find places on campus to do my homework besides the library,” Samuels said. “It’s great they added a bunch of new tables to the area, allowing people to do their homework. All I want is to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sunny San Diego weather.”
Samuels also noted that her favorite addition was the grass lawn.
“You will definitely be able to find me sitting out on the grass,” Samuels said. “I’ll bring a little blanket and sit down to do some homework and people watching. This is why I am paying so much money; it’s because I have the green grass here.”
What most don’t realize is that the Paseo de Colachis project can potentially change the social scene of USD’s campus.
“I could definitely see it becoming the new social hotspot of campus,” Samuels said. “I’ve already seen organizations with tables in the new space and people playing out on the grass.”
The south end of campus is a busy location with the majority of business classes held in Olin Hall, communication classes held in Camino Hall, and students frequently visiting Copley Library. In the past students had no place to congregate before or after classes. Now, Olin Hall, Camino Hall, and Copley Library all feed directly into the new pedestrian mall, naturally creating a common meeting ground for all.
“Before if you wanted to stand and talk you would either be blocking the sidewalk or in the way of cars,” Samuels said. “It’s nice to have the option to walk out from class and be able to pause and continue that conversation without worrying about being in the way.”
Junior Zaharias Kern did not hesitate to explain why she is already so fond of the new Paseo de Colachis
“It makes it feel more like a college versus a community college,” Zaharias Kern said. “Coming from another school that had a lot of grass and open space on campus it was nice to get that this year, because last year I missed that.”
While the new pedestrian mall makes maneuvering around campus a bit easier, it is not without some downfalls.
“I think that it’s more accessible for pedestrian traffic, but makes it more difficult for vehicular traffic,” Zaharias Kern said. “It would be difficult living in Camino or Founders since you wouldn’t be able to have direct access from your car to your dorm.”
Residents of Camino and Founders halls were able to have cars pull up in front of the dorms to make unloading and getting picked up very easy. The opening of Paseo de Colachis replaced the Marian Way road that allowed cars to drive from the south end of campus to the Immaculata.
Junior Tia Phillipart commented on how the decreased accessibility for vehicular traffic could have a positive impact on the university’s environment.
“Although the accessibility of cars has decreased, it has forced students to walk more,” Phillipart said. “I used to rely on the shuttle to take me from Serra down toward the KIPJ, but now that I don’t have that option I find myself walking more.”
Phillipart is not alone; almost all students now have to travel by foot if they want to go from one end of campus to the other.
“It’s great that everyone has to take the same walkway to get around now,” Phillipart said. “I am always running into familiar faces and catching up in between classes, it breaks up the monotony of my class schedule.”
There is more opportunity for students to connect with classmates without a road dividing them.
Pros and cons aside, it is undeniable that the Paseo de Colachis project has brought a new vibe to USD’s campus. The scenic view of fountains and lush grass is preferable to the loud and inconvenient construction from last semester. The new pedestrian mall provides all who walk onto campus a front-row seat to the campus lifestyle.
Taryn Beaufort | Opinion Editor | The USD Vista