Alex Budzynski is a Campus News Editor for the Newswire. He is a sophomore public relations major from Fairfax, Va.
On an average day, I exceed upward of 11,000 steps from merely walking to and from buildings on campus. There are days, few and far between, where I have no more than 3,000 steps, and those are the days (mostly on the weekends) when I know I have been extra lazy. There are also those times when my Fitbit will inform me I have managed to walk more than 16,000 steps, a revelation I find equally impressive and repulsive.
One recent day, I found myself walking from the caf to Gallagher. Unconsciously, I was walking along one of the paths leading to the front of Bellarmine. From there, I proceeded to walk down the hill toward Brockman, making a 90-degree left turn to enter Gallagher.
There was nothing odd or unusual about my path of choice, but it occurred to me I could have made the same journey a whole lot quicker if I had simply walked straight across the yard. However, that would have required me to leave the comfort of the beige and gray stones that line our campus.
I began thinking to myself, why don’t I ever walk across the grass? It is not like the grass is dangerous or totally off limits or a gross mud pit. After all, students venture into the grass to relax or study all the time.
Almost anywhere else in the world, I would fearlessly cross a patch of grass if it were the most convenient way to get from point A to point B. Instead, on campus I find myself taking hundreds of extra steps that are completely unnecessary.
Then why do we as a community not cut across the grass when walking from building to building?
To the best of my knowledge, there is no written rule that prohibits students from walking on the grass. It is not like anyone forces students to stick to the paths – after all, we are not soldiers in boot camp. In many situations, cutting across the grass would save precious amounts of time, something we all could use a little more of at the end of the day. Many could get to class faster than by sticking exclusively to the paths.
I do not believe this is the conscious choice of students by any means. It is something that just naturally becomes a part of how we move around campus. I know that if some people felt as though they had an option, they would tear through the earthen terrain without thought. Sticking to the designated paths feels like one of those skills that are unknowingly instilled during Manresa, like how and where to use your ALL Card. It is something you inadvertently continue to do until you graduate.
This is not to say that Xavier is lacking in pathways, because it seems impossible to get from one building to another without some stone walkway to guide the way. As a matter of fact, I would even praise the university for its coordinated paths and the accessibility they provide.
Rather, I think the real reason we do not venture off the paths on campus is an underlying respect: respect for the university, for the nature around us and for our fellow students.
If we were to start trudging across the ground, one of two things would result. The grass and soil would be torn up from overuse, or students would start getting sprayed by the intense sprinkler system and refuse to take the risk of soaking their dry clothes.
Furthermore, to cut through the grass would mean missing out on conversations with friends and classmates. We are often so busy rushing from one thing to the next we miss the opportunity to slow down and recognize the beautiful people and places surrounding us. Walking along the paths, instead of the across grass, gives us the means to do just that: Connect with one another and the place we call home.
So, next time you are wandering from one place to another, do not forget to take the long way – you never know what, or who, might cross your path.