Staff Editorial

The public image of Lawrence University has undergone a number of changes. The addition of the Warch Campus Center, remodeling of the website and the new “This is Lawrence” video campaign have resulted in a more polished image.
Yet these modifications have also brought the image of Lawrence closer to those of other institutions of higher learning. Whereas in previous years, dining, meeting and leisure spaces were distributed throughout campus – encouraging students to find the places that suited their individual needs and interests – many of these venues have now been consolidated into the Campus Center. The Campus Center is a large, industrial building that has significantly reshaped the topography of campus. While the building’s amenities are very useful, we find that its spaces are more impersonal than those it replaced.
Upon entering the Campus Center, prospective students and other visitors to the building will immediately notice a store selling Lawrence-themed apparel and gifts. The prominence of the store and the increased sense of mainstream branding that comes with it contrasts with the modesty of the store it replaced.
The nature of the media featured on the remodeled Lawrence website has further contributed to this image shift. Photos of construction projects and videos portraying what Lawrence “is” redirect attention towards a streamlined Lawrence experience, but Lawrence is in a transitory phase, and these are only examples of what Lawrence may become. Meanwhile, diverse places that have not yet receded completely from our consciousness are being marginalized.
While we recognize the need for a public image, the corporatization of campus life and the homogenization of the Lawrence experience may detract from the character of our university and its history as an institution that encouraged students to shape and be shaped by a small but diverse community.