By Aviva Hope Rutkin
We need a new map.
Cartographically speaking, Union College should have it pretty good. Our campus is small, spanning about 120 acres. As the Gatekeepers like to boast, we have the first planned campus in U.S. history, so our buildings are more or less thematically arranged. Plus, we even have the Nott Memorial, a convenient and centrally located landmark.
However, for reasons that I cannot explain, the college insists on using an incredibly confusing map for campus visitors.
During the Getting to Know U admissions event on Monday, our staff observed many puzzled parents and high school students wandering the campus, sub-par map in hand. I personally answered questions from several sets of lost families, none of whom could make head or tail of the document in front of them.
This map, pictured below, views the campus from an unnatural sideways angle, as if the viewer were a bird hovering in the southwest.
This perspective causes the area around Science and Engineering to appear even more cramped than it actually is, and obscures common pathways and roads. It’s also unclear to the uninitiated that certain halls, like Bailey and Steinmetz, are actually part of one complex.
The buildings are numbered alphabetically, which is arbitrary and unhelpful. They should be numbered either by category or in the order you would encounter them (perhaps, as one staff member suggested, starting outward from Grant Hall).
Also, at the cost of clarity, the map attempts to include every single tree and shrub on campus. It does not, however, identify any of the Minervas or dormitories.
Granted, this map is a very lovely illustration of our campus. But as a navigational tool, Union can do a lot better.
In light of the administration’s hard work over the past few years to redesign the website and update Union’s branding, I would think that changing the map would be a welcome challenge.
The college seems to be aware of the inadequecy of their current map. On the ‘Map Central’ section of the Union website, no less than nine additional campus maps are listed, all of which use Google Maps as a basic template.
For the past two editions of Fresh, the Concordy’s first-year magazine, Ajay and I developed a newer map that remedies many of the aforementioned errors. It organizes the buildings by type—academic, administrative, athletic and so on. It includes Minervas, dormitories, Greek Houses and places of interest, like the Idol. It even identifies where on campus you can eat.
To be fair, our map has its faults too. It doesn’t include off-campus locations like the Kenney Center or the Office of Communications. It’s a little too large to easily carry around. Also, the number 22 didn’t print very clearly.
But it’s light-years ahead of the official map. Union College, embrace the change.
Aviva Hope RutkinEditor-in-Chief