Opinion: Gettysburg College is Stuck in the Past
By Dominic DiLuzio, Guest Columnist
Gettysburg is known for its rich Civil War history. College ambassadors highlight the history of the College from the moment a new student steps onto campus, speaking of Union and Confederate troops occupying Penn Hall and underscoring almost every inspirational message with a historic Gettysburg anecdote. However, this inseparability from its history has had an unintentional effect on the College: it has anchored us in the past, preventing innovation, growth, and forward-thinking throughout almost all aspects of the campus community.
Architecturally, the College is stuck in the mid-20th century. Freshman accommodations on their own are an embarrassment to the College and stand alone in their deficits relative to other similar colleges: the gray stone buildings of Dickinson give its campus character and elegance, compared to Gettysburg’s lime-stained, decaying, dilapidated brick rectangles. This, combined with antiquated motels that desperately need new paint, “new-construction” apartment buildings made of the same boring red brick, and a library that, at risk of being blunt, is plain ugly.
This isn’t a “don’t judge a book by its cover” story—the interior of these halls is almost as bad as their forlorn facades. Servo maintains decor that evokes images of the menu at an Italian restaurant on some hazy vacation. The common rooms of the freshman halls bring a whole new meaning to “tragedy of the commons”—stinking, monochromatic, unpleasant rooms with three to four pieces of furniture fresh from the town dump. The inside of the library is a doctor’s office from 2003. Weidensall is a case study in the landlord’s special. Even Glatfelter, arguably the most elegant building on campus, leaves much to be desired on the interior.
But worse, beyond just being sickly to look at, Gettysburg’s halls are literally sickening. The basement of Hanson Hall is uninhabitable due to a mold problem (yet still houses laundry facilities) and air conditioners across all freshman dorms are known to house large colonies of mold. These buildings are completely unfit for modern dependence on electronic items. According to the College itself, the presence of air conditioners in every freshman room (a basic and simple amenity) is impossible due to their ability to handle the electrical load. How’s that for historic? Even upperclassmen halls have repeated issues with squirrels, spiders, and mold, begging the question: “College residence or tenement?”
While the College claims to be—and, for the most part, is—innovative within the classroom, there is a constant struggle against the old and the new. With many professors banning laptops for note-taking in classrooms, the faculty of this institution seems to be resistant to modern technology and the modern way of operating within the world. No one would expect, in a secondary institution in 2023, that professors would require essays to be printed for grading or for notebooks and pencils to be required to take notes. Modern technology will not disappear tomorrow. Many employers desire employees that are proficient at using new technology. To restrict the use of technology in the classroom is to admit, openly, that we are stuck teaching the curriculum of yesteryear, no longer focused on providing an education that is modern and no longer equipping our students with the skills for careers beyond.
Gettysburg cannot attract and develop creative, pioneering and groundbreaking students when we cultivate an institution that, through its architecture and beliefs, has a reliance on a long-gone past. We need to break free of historical inhibitions, creating buildings and curricula that encourage and promote the true reason for secondary education; to equip students with the tools, knowledge and mindset needed to enter the modern world. As an institution, we, while still acknowledging our rich and important past, need to get with the times and strive to cultivate the innovation we attempt to preach.
This article originally appeared on page 10 of the March 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.
April 12, 2023
So why are you attending Gettysburg College? Dickinson is a good school; were you not good enough to be accepted there?
April 13, 2023
The author makes some valid points.
Mr. Marek’s response, however, is that of a petulant child and should be ignored.
April 13, 2023
You better transfer.
April 17, 2023
why’s everyone so upset that he’s absolutely right?
– an actual student here.
April 18, 2023
I agree. I am a Gettysburg resident and graduate of four universities. The 20th century has bypassed Gettysburg College and leapfrogged to the 21st over 20 years ago. Every employer, even fast foid chains, are using tablet technology. Keyboarding is being replaced by voice avtivated actuación. Get a grant if necessary to remove all mold from everywhere. Start with hábitats and dining facilites. Mold can kill your faculty and your students before they ever become alumni. Other colleges are already electrifying to minimize climate CHANGING fossil fuels. Start now to install ground source geothermal HVAC for every builging to save your future expenses and our Earth. Make an Earth Day commitment now for the rest of this century.
April 18, 2023
You’re a graduate of four universities and can’t spell “fast food” correctly?
April 18, 2023
I will tell you, electronic submittal and PDFs were not new ten years ago when I graduated and it was rare that we printed out our papers – but I have since gained as many years experience in office and field work in an utilities engineering profession. Your ability to wrangle a printer is most prized in both corporate and small business environments. No matter whether you work in administrative functions or generative departments.
“What scale? Why is it printing in color? Does this printer/copier have an automatic stapler? No, the county wants these in printed triplicate for review. No, Bill doesn’t use a computer but we need him to get approval. Hey, we need a few copies for this meeting. Dearie, could you please help me – I usually ask Tom but he’s not in today.”
You have my sympathy for the other issues. There is not much help coming on that front, I am sure. The best you can do is what you are doing- make sure any prospective students or their families hear about the mold.
April 18, 2023
Mr. DiLuzio should focus on bigger problems, like how Andy Reid and Patrick Maholmes beat his Eagles in the Superbowl. Go Chiefs!