As many may have seen, Rowan University has begun construction on the long rumored turf intramural field, adding the turfing of the soccer field to the project. Last year, when the idea of having a turf intramural field first arrived before students, the soccer field was not a part of that initial proposal. This proposal asked if students would be willing to foot the bill for the new field.
The rationale for turfing the field stemmed from the prolonged wear and tear on the ground throughout the sports season, as well as years of abuse on the ground. At that time, the Rowan Rec Center was calling for student assistance in funding, as the field falls under the center’s control for both club and intramural sports. Since then, as “The Whit” has reported this week, plans have changed to have the university foot the bill for the field, as it will also include a newly turfed soccer field.
While students have been spared the cost of a new field, the new turf fields bring up the question of available green space on campus.
The intramural field is conveniently located in the middle of one of the most densely populated parts of campus, housing students in the colonial-style dorms, as well as Edgewood Park Apartments. While the field is primarily used for club and intramural sports, it does have hours for students to freely access the field for pick-up games or other uses. Many students already take advantage of the open gates to do so.
The turfing of the field is not an issue. The surface is uneven and becomes a virtual mudslide when it rains, often closing down the field for several days until the puddles evaporate. While turfing the field is a vast improvement, it draws attention to a larger problem; that is the availability of open green space for students to use.
The current field is surrounded by a 10-foot tall, black chain link fence and is often times locked. While it is occasionally open so students can use it, on weekends the fields are often rented out to external organizations. While the renting of the field subsidizes Rec Center expenses, shouldn’t students have access to such a big space at a time when they are most free?
It is understandable that the field has a primary use. Students technically do have access, but when they do not, they are left with a small area next to the volleyball court and the grassy areas next to dorm rooms. Neither of these areas are quite as big as and serve multiple purposes like the IM field does. The next largest space is the Bunce Hall green, which often has a sign that says “Do not walk on the grass.” Since that space is used for commencement purposes and could be considered one of the most picturesque places on campus, is that a space the university wants students to actively use?
The establishment of a large green space cannot be completed overnight, nor can the university just plant grass anywhere. This should be strongly considered by planning committees. Students should have access to a multi-purposeful space available to them at any time.