Don’t keep off the grass

Keep Off the Grass?

When I told one my former political science professors that I was considering coming to the University of Miami, he said, “Isn’t that campus just like a country club?”

I didn’t know. I had never seen it. Now that I’ve been here for all of one semester, I can see what he meant. UM does have the feel of a country club. I think the flowers are arranged with a protractor, that each bloom is in perfect perpendicular alignment with its neighbor, with whom it will never cross-fertilize because bees can’t afford the parking passes. Sidewalks criss-cross lawns trimmed with tiny eyebrow scissors, and as soon as a little pig-trail begins to develop, a new cement overlay is applied so it won’t look like white trash.

Not that I’m complaining. The overall effect is beautiful. The only problem is there is all of this luscious grass just begging to be walked across barefoot on one of Miami’s signature azure days, all of this expanse of green saying, “Play Frisbee on me! Bring out a blanket and read a book! Have a picnic!” And no one is listening!

I went to the University of Georgia to get my bachelor’s degree, and the quad on north campus looked like a patchwork quilt or an alien landing pad on warm afternoons for all the blankets and flying plastic discs. I’ve talked to friends who went to other universities. They have the same stories. What could be going on at the UM that’s keeping people off the grass?

I contacted the university administration, worried that there might actually be some prohibition on frolicking. Maybe there were pesticides being sprayed that might interfere with our ability to conjugate verbs or calculate profit and loss ratios. Perhaps it was a problem of maintenance expense; maybe they contract those guys who work at the Marlins’ field to come out here in the off-season.

After a long rabbit chase through different departments Alan Weber of Facilities Administration assured me, “There is no prohibition about being on the grass.”

So, maybe it’s a matter of expensive shoes that shan’t be soiled or scuffed. There is a strangely skewed ratio of black leather shoes to sneakers here, not to mention high-heeled sandals that might aerate the lawn nicely, but cost more than my first car, and pedicures that are more expensive than my best pair of shoes.

When I was a kid, my mom told me that if I walked across someone else’s lawn, I would kill the grass. Maybe that’s what’s keeping UM students off the grass: memories of parents threatening dead landscaping. I somehow associate the memory of myself as a potential grass murderer with my dad telling me that if I didn’t stop sucking on my hair he would cut it all off. My hair’s pretty short now, but my dad had nothing to do with it.

I hope the rest of you aren’t similarly traumatized. Think of it less as a country club and more as a giant kickball field. Run out there and play. Don’t worry. It won’t mess up your pedicure. It will probably do your kid-spirit some good.

Angie Henderson is a master’s student in the School of International Studies.