U.Va. sidewalks: We could use some clarification

Humor Columnist Sydney Branham explores the perplexing circumstances surrounding sidewalks and treading on grass at U.Va.


No one has told me that I can’t walk across a patch of grass. That doesn’t stop the guilt from hitting me, or from staring at someone else cutting corners when there’s a sidewalk right there. 

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

I am not a morning person. This often means I must choose between a timely arrival to class and food. One day this week I saw an opportunity for both, but I knew sacrifices would have to be made. That sacrifice happened to be the prime condition of a piece of U.Va. Lawn, one of the patches of grass that lies between Alderman and Monroe. I don’t know how much of an impact my footsteps had on the morning dew because I couldn’t afford to look back, but I see our tuition dollars going towards some type of maintenance on the daily. A missing brick in the sidewalk gets replaced instantaneously — the only reminder that the brick is different is the sound that reverberates when you walk across it, and upon discovery you feel like a superhero whose great responsibility is figuring out where U.Va.’s money goes. That’s what’s causing all of these price hikes – it’s drunkards stealing bricks and vandals like me abusing lawns. 

No one has told me that I can’t walk across a patch of grass. That doesn’t stop the guilt from hitting me, or from staring at someone else cutting corners when there’s a sidewalk right there. It’s all part of the toil for perfection that infects every little bit of life here. Too bad that perfection can’t infect my morning routine, or the efficiency of a sidewalk’s distance. This school likes to constantly remind us of its roots, and the amount of time it takes to get from one place to another without cutting across a manicured lawn is the most innocent factor of the elite Southern culture manifested here. Our ancestors took weeks traveling by horse-drawn carriage to visit their pen pals so that they could justify racism in person, and detours were an expected part of the process. Rejecting a host’s offer to stay could result in a duel. Our modern day equivalent is the inefficient sidewalk, along with the friend groups that clog said sidewalk who will send you dirty looks for trying to get around them. This would never fly in New York, where you do what you have to do to get through those crowds–– if someone ends up dead, that’s on them. 

I try to maintain the same aloof energy that New Yorkers have in my travels across U.Va., at least towards the tortoise walkers of our school (I like to think that if I saw someone getting mugged I would try to help, but I have yet to encounter that experience at our mostly honor-bound University). They can glare at me all they like, but I have a schedule. Last semester I had a noon class in the side of Gilmer closest to O’Hill that often went over and a 1 p.m. in Bryan Hall. You can bet that I raced around crowds and cut through a friend group or two to make it on time. Dirty looks were a standard part of my week, but through my Pete Davidson-esque approach, I survived. I may run late leaving a location, but I will never fall behind on the journey, even if a few lawns get attacked in the process.

And that’s another thing. Some lawns at this school hold more weight than others. I’m speaking specifically about The Lawn™, which University activity revolves around, sanctioned and unsanctioned. We’re all supposed to gather there at the end of the fall semester, and we’re all supposed to run across it naked before the end of our time here. Why the inner hypocrisy when it comes to the way we treat the school’s environmentally controversial grasses? I’m not trying to expand the acceptable radius of nudity. The Lawn™ can keep that. I just want some acceptance, clarification at the very least, from myself and others when it comes to the spaces we trample over. 

Sydney Branham is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at humor@cavalierdaily.com

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