Predicting the 10 biggest changes on Butler’s campus in the next decade

Photo courtesy of Butler University.

EMMA BEAVINS | OPINION REPORTER | ebeavins@butler.edu

In the last three years alone, Butler University has undergone many major structural changes. Irvington House replaced Schwitzer Hall, Plum Market replaced C-Club, and the new Lacy School of Business building replaced highly coveted parking — forever altering the physical shape of campus. In the name of progress, the university has modernized accommodations, study spaces and classrooms. 

Yet, Butler is straining at the seams. Total undergraduate enrollment has steadily increased from around 4,000 students in Fall 2010 to nearly 4,800 students in Fall 2019. The university built Irvington in hopes of accommodating bigger classes and advancing the living accommodations on campus. However, due to the recording breaking size of the class of 2022, the plans to retire Ross Hall were not fulfilled. 

We have the new Lacy School of Business building, and yet professors’ offices have been moved out of Jordan Hall due to leaks and mold. 

Butler is attempting to overcome these discrepancies before the class of 2030 start their tours of campus. The economic recession of 2008 led to less births in those years according to the Pew Research Center, which means student enrollment could be down. 

With this crisis looming in the distance, I think Butler will respond in the following 10 ways: 

1. Gentrification 

To keep class sizes growing, Butler will extend its influence over the sketchy areas around campus. Alumni donations and tuition increases will be allocated to gentrify and Butler-ize the area from 38th Street to Westfield Boulevard. The 38th Street strip will boast health food restaurants, at least three Starbucks, one locally-owned coffee shop, fast-fashion-filled clothing stores and dog apparel boutiques suitable for parents and alumni. 

2. The mailroom

Down an unmarked hallway and a one-floor freight elevator ride, you can follow painted blue pawprints to the current mail room. Why does it sit in the basement of Holcomb, you ask? Great question. The less-than-accessible mailroom continually frightens students away from its doors. In the midst of all of the expensive renovations slated in the next decade, I pray that the mailroom makes the list. The bar is low — little money would be needed. I simply ask for a clearly marked space at ground level where I do not feel like I will be assaulted while shipping gifts to my friends. 

3. Math, Engineering and Design Center

For a university increasingly focused on STEM and business majors, we need to do something about the engineering program. Currently, Butler has a six year dual degree program with IUPUI for engineering, but ascertaining two degrees while trekking back and forth to a different school seems challenging when compared to other options like Purdue, Rose Hulman and now Indiana University, who are known for their engineering programs. I say we go all in on an engineering program, instead of being half-in, half-out.

With more resources dedicated to engineering comes the need for more space on campus. I predict that a new center for math, engineering and design be constructed to promote and house these programs. The MED center could house current major programs like actuarial science, computer science, graphic design and the other math and technology majors. The space could include design labs with technologies available for student use such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and, if we are lucky, a few more color printers for student use.  

By moving these classes and offices out of Jordan, more space in Jordan could be created for the other liberal arts programs — maybe the art program could even be moved up from the Annex to be an actual part of campus. 

4. Butler Blue IV and Butler Blue V

Bulldogs only live eight to 12 years. In the decade from 2020-30, we will likely have two different Butler Blues. While it’s not confirmed whether Butler Blue IV will be a male or female, we definitely need some female representation in the Butler Blue dynasty. While I think Ivy would be a cute name for the fourth, think of all the cute possible names that could start with a “V” for Butler Blue V. My votes are for Victory or Violet.

5. Campus transportation

Why walk to class when you could ride? By 2029, Butler will release a line of automatic scooters, mopeds and hoverboards with custom Butler branding, available for a one-ride purchase from any building on campus to another. By spending a few flex dollars, the preprogrammed machines with off-roading capabilities will drive students on the most direct routes from class to class. The inefficiency of walking around campus and conversing with friends will be eliminated to maximize the number of credit hours able to be taken in a semester. 

6. Ross Hall

 Ross Hall may be the biggest question of all. Will it be torn down? Will the inside be renovated like Resco to appease students who are otherwise disappointed with their housing situation? I do not think that the Butler housing commission has the heart to tear down such a beautiful limestone building in favor of the cheap-looking exterior of Fairview, Irvington and Lacy. Moreover, the students that have lived in Ross are invested in its existence, but possibly not in its current state. You have heard the former residents of Schwitzer complain about Irvington, right? Just imagine if the most classic residence hall at Butler was turned into a fancy-dancy, hotel-esque establishment. I’m so sure that would sit well with students. It’s undeniable, however, that Ross is virtually unlivable. 

If the planning commission has a heart for sentimentality, they should turn Ross into the honorary Butler museum. Student artwork and projects could be displayed, faculty could submit exhibition ideas, and a whole level could be dedicated to Butler basketball and the Butler Blue legacy. 

But in reality, my actual prediction is that Ross will be torn down. However, I do not think we will see another Irvington. Many students in the class of 2022 have complained about the sterility and isolation of the new dorm. The university has an opportunity to make a big move in redoing Ross. I foresee a move back to communal bathrooms and an experience closer to that of Ross in its former glory. 

7. Esports overtakes football 

The university will replace the Sellick Bowl with an esports stadium so students and alumni alike can come together to watch the athletic display of two kids staring at a screen pressing buttons. The esports team will don the revered navy blue parkas of Butler athletes, as well as pose with Butler Blue IV for team photos that will be made into calendars and sold in the bookstore. Daily, they will be trailed into Atherton by the cheerleading squad in the gear from their latest competition win. The tens of thousands of dollars secured by their victories will continue to be siphoned by the university to breed and sell live bulldogs to alumni. 

8. Tau Kappa Epsilon

The infamous fraternity was kicked off of Butler’s campus in May of 2012 for reasons that are not entirely clear. However, it only took six years for Phi Delta Theta to be reinstated when it had to close its doors in 2002. TKE has passed the six year mark, and has the possibility to be reinstated. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? 

9. Senior Housing

Butler acquired some houses by the Butler Terrace area when they bought the apartments at Christian Theological Seminary. From what I have heard, these houses need to be gutted in order to be livable. The beer stained, smoke-coated walls of current senior houses will give way to a Black Mirror-esque gated community of stand-alone Ikea houses. The self-sufficient, innovative, eco-friendly, unbreakable, modern and uncomfortably minimalist houses will overtake Apartment Village to become the most expensive housing per square foot in Indiana. 

10. Jordan Hall

Jordan Hall is on the register of Historic Landmarks in Indiana. So, it cannot be torn down — thankfully. Look forward to more fire hazards, mold and the beautiful endurance of that musty stone fortress. At the least, I believe the university will try to get rid of the sketchy scaffolding in the stairwells. The building could also use a good cleaning of the ventilation and some proper air conditioning — anyone else have trouble breathing when its humid? Besides that, the first floor could be better utilized for study space, especially on the east end where its just white tile everywhere. Jordan Hall deserves a place in history books, and though structural changes cannot happen, the interior could be a bit more comfortable. 

Above all, the next decade will bring the complete refacing of everything Butler: from the grand limestone of Atherton and Jordan will come the more modern aesthetic of Irvington and Lacy. If we are lucky, the university will learn from some of the shortcomings of these two new buildings — especially taking into consideration the need for community and interaction among students. If we advance with this goal in mind, I have hope for the next decade at Butler. 

 

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