Combat Zone

Is the University of Puget Sound Being Gentrified?

Fairy lights around the Rotunda bathe our once dark campus in a warm glow -- a clear sign of gentrification. Photo Credit: Andrew Benoit // The Trail

By Stoop O’Malley

  The University of Puget Sound has changed drastically over 136 years, but it retains the essential characteristics that have made it home to so many generations of students: the pervasive dampness, faux Ivy-League façade, and inedible SUB food, among others. Yet since the COVID-19 pandemic, campus has become increasingly unrecognizable, and it would appear that somehow our PWI is being gentrified. Suspend your disbelief, the evidence is insurmountable: it permeates the atmosphere.

  Most recently, fairy lights have been strung from tree to tree across campus, bathing our previously dark and ominous walkways in a warm glow. This directly erodes an essential aspect of campus culture: the increasingly panic-stricken walk that breaks into a run as the shadows of the trees seem to encroach ever closer, reaching out as if to permanently ensnare you in their morbid embrace. Now, campus seems perpetually set to twilight, rather than a setting from the Twilight Zone, and much like a freshman dorm room, it appears aesthetically designed and far too small simultaneously. In fact, the freshmen themselves may be responsible for gentrifying Puget Sound, and the fairy lights strung around campus are only the first item of evidence.

  The new Toast Bar in the SUB is the second item, sold to us as a balm for those crying out after having to eat inexplicably burnt yet raw potatoes every morning. No one but freshmen put that much effort into their breakfast; they start the academic year trying their hardest to jazz up the slop on their plate and convince themselves they can stick out four years of this. At this point, freshmen would have the enthusiasm to scrounge for the components of their aesthetic breakfast, such as toast and its associated toppings. By their second semester, this enthusiasm is usually curb-stomped, another essential aspect of campus culture being eroded by the establishment of a Toast Bar.

  However, the most damning evidence that the University of Puget Sound is being gentrified is the fact that freshmen are, quite literally, replacing us. I saw it last year, when all of the seniors started talking about moving out and finding cheap places to live: none of them came back. Instead, the original members of the campus community were displaced by new first-years, and I suspect it will happen again this year.

  Those displaced members of our campus community have yet to reap the benefits of increased investment in the student body, despite having been here for so long, and there is only one solution. The University of Puget Sound must stop admitting new students. Now is also the right time to stop admitting new students, before Generation Alpha starts attending Puget Sound and it becomes painfully clear that the reports were true: Generation Alpha cannot read.