Lawn Etiquette

Students need to show consideration and decency when enjoying the Lawn

As the weather begins to warm, University students start to recognize all the things that they love about Grounds. The cherry trees begin to blossom, and students begin to walk slower to class - as if to bask in the sun for a moment longer. If you are fortunate enough to have a class where attendance is not crucial, you may start to notice significantly lower attendance numbers. If you are anyone that is looking to see and be seen, you are in one of two places: the gym, trying to get your summer body back, or lounging outside, especially on the Lawn. The Lawn at this time of the year is bustling with student activity. At any given moment, people can be seen "doing work," tight-rope walking, eating, tanning, relaxing or playing. In addition to these diverse activities, there is an eclectic mix of people who can be seen on the Lawn: old, young, women, men, children and adults. With the influx of people, a rise in dogs roaming the Lawn has also occurred. Dogs on the Lawn can, at times, be appealing. Dogs on the Lawn, at other times, can be disobedient and turn into menaces. In addition to the dogs on Grounds, the level of inappropriate sunbathing that occurs is also something to be curtailed.

Some dogs that frequent the Lawn are masters of obedience. They run and play, yet do not interfere with people relaxing - unless they solicit the dog's attention. These dogs are exemplary models of how man and animal can coexist in a space peacefully. Too many times, however, these dogs get themselves into trouble. I have seen everything from a dog going to the bathroom in inappropriate places, to getting into food containers while a student is not looking. I have even seen dogs startling people who are laying down, unaware that an animal is in their presence. This is unacceptable, and dogs that are not obedient should be on a leash. The most deplorable aspect of this issue is that the owners that have these poorly trained dogs on the Lawn are often too apathetic or even absent-minded when the victims shoot a look of inquiry to determine who the dog belongs to. Quite frankly, a disobedient dog is a reflection on its owner. It is the owner's responsibility to watch a dog closely, as even the best trained dog can misbehave. One would not bring his child to the Lawn and expect everyone to watch out for the child, and the same holds true for dogs. I think that what dog owners need to realize and be sensitive to is that not everyone likes dogs nor do they want to deal with them.

Another thing that is seemingly inappropriate is the level of bikini bathers that have surfaced on campus. There is a fine line between public indecency like streaking and sun bathing in a bikini: the cloak of darkness and speed. If someone were to lay on the Lawn in their underwear without a blanket, that would not be appropriate. The difference between the two in this case is premeditation. What makes the bikini's on the Lawn wrong is that there is not a drop of water in sight, therefore making the wearer a public display for all people to see. Whether or not they seek attention, one thing is for certain: They have it. But this criticism is not limited to the ladies, for it is men as well that use warm weather as an excuse to strip. How many times have you seen a guy rip off his shirt in a Hulk-like fashion as if to avoid overheating, yet they were not breaking a sweat? It leaves one thinking, "Really? Is it really that hot? It's only 70 degrees today..." With the rise of prospective students on Grounds with Days on the Lawn, should we be represented by these images? To a parent it looks as though University students study hard all day to become successful, then run around shirtless and in bikinis in their free time.

In conclusion, the Lawn is a focal point for our university. It is the quintessential frame of the Rotunda. It is important for owners of unruly dogs and students relaxing on the Lawn to consider how we represent the University.

Ashley Ford's column appears on Tuesdays. She can be reached at

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