Saturday, November 03, 2007

Seattle University, oh, where's that?

Caution: this post tends to ramble more than others and I don’t have time to edit, you’ve been forewarned.

There was an article in the PI today about Seattle U's (SU) basketball team playing Kentucky today in an exhibition/celebration game for their national championship battle 50 years ago. The article dropped a few tidbits about Seattle U plans to move into Div I sport and a return to a more traditional collegiate atmosphere after an experiment at being a commuter campus in the 70-90s.

To be honest, I am not very connected to Seattle U. It is, merely, the school where my law school is located. I don't feel that connected to SU that I do to the U of Idaho, the campus isn't my home like Moscow's was, and I don't really know much about the school aside from the quadrant where the law school is. So, I decided to ponder SU a little more than I normally do and wonder what it is like to be an undergrad here.

As the article states, the school is moving back toward a traditional, residential campus. The campus itself, is truly urban. No other major institution in Seattle has a similar city feel. The U of Washington (UW) and Seattle Pacific University (SPU) are both "classified" as urban schools, but it isn't the same setting as SU. The UW sits on a sprawling, wooded campus on the shores of Lake Washington. While still in the city, UW's large and park-like setting make it quite possible for student to stay on campus and completely ignore the city if they chose to. Similarly, SPU, while technically within the city limits, sits in a quite neighborhood nestled between the Lake Union ship canal placid waters and the base of Queen Anne hill (quickly becoming one of Seattle poshest neighborhoods).

SU, however, is located in between First Hill (also know as Pill Hill for all the Hospitals or formely as Curse Hill) and Capitol Hill (home to Seattle oldest neighborhoods) and surround by the various Hospitals (which help explain the school stellar nursing program) that dominate the Eastern half of Seattle skyline. Yesterday, I went downtown for a haircut and it was a quick 10 minute walk to the heart of the Seattle business district and the base of the city's tallest skyscrapers. From here, I could walk ten more minutes to the shopping district or climb aboard a bus in the the city's ride free zone and move about the interior of the city with ease. It is impossible, from here, to not realize you are in one of America’s major cities.

For college freshmen, who live on campus, this must be an exciting place to be an 18 year old. At U of Idaho, a large campus in the middle of nowhere, the school is the city of Moscow. Everything in Moscow revolves around the school and it is impossible to ever leave the fact that you are a student, the you at University. Even if you leave campus the city still feels like an extension of campus, if you drive a few miles to Pullman you are still on another college campus (WSU). Thus, a student who leaves home to spend for four of five years in Moscow will have a brief respite from the rest of the world while they focus on their studies, the classmates, and the University. I don’t think that is the same experience here. A young student here basically lives in a beautiful garden in the middle of a city. A city, unlike Moscow, does not revolve around anyone institution but bustles with continuous activity. A student can simply take a step of the campus and forget their studies, their classes, and their university troubles.

I’m not sure which setting is better, I don’t really think that either is better, rather, they are different. Had I a second choice, I’m pretty sure I would choose another rural school but there are definite advantages for the urban setting.


Phil said...

The UI was the perfect setting for me. I never feel comfortable in big cities. Having walked around downtown Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Philadelphia, I can safely say that I have never ever felt like I belonged in that type of urban environment. For me, it's like putting a polar bear in the desert.

We were just back in Moscow today, visiting the campus before the football game, and it once again felt like home to me. Even 17 years after graduation. Driving home to Coeur d'Alene, it's more of the same. Total comfort and ease amidst the rolling hills, farms, and forests of North Idaho.

Matt/Idawa said...

Yeah, I think you either take to big cities or you don't. While I loved Moscow and Cd'A, I think it would be difficult to live there anymore as my heart and mind have grown so accustomed to the city. Even in Boise I tend to go a little stir crazy and tend to look for crowds to put me as ease! My wife and I have seriously thought about selling our house and moving deeper into the city in one of the high rise condos. We love having a house and yard and living so close to UW, yet still, sometime we dream about being downtown.