In many ways, I think it’s good that each university has a ‘thing’ to make it stand out from the crowd. York’s ‘thing’, that special selling point, is a lake and the associated ducks (alongside being an incredible centre for higher education obviously). Ducks are sweet, they make the concrete metropolis of campus seem somehow more alive, and it’s always lovely to see families with little kids coming onto campus on Saturday mornings to feed them. But take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and things aren’t quite so easy. I’ve been informed that technically, the lake should be called a pond. It is completely artificial, which makes it seem significantly less interesting and impressive. It’s essentially a concrete hole filled with unmentionable biological gunk, and a tiny bit of water. Nice as it looks on the front of the prospectus, the reality is a little, well, murkier.
Surely we have enough problems with this lake, considering the pollution, weird algae and ever-present risk of inebriated students falling in, to last us a lifetime? Why, therefore, does the University want to build another one on the new campus at Heslington East?
The University is perpetrating a very negative image of itself to the public
With the question of the new lake, it’s not only a matter of creating yet another biohazard for the biology students to study, but the local residents have objected to the creation of another lake on University land, which is a different (but very important) problem. We already have a lake which fulfills all possible functions: scenic photo opportunity, environmental concern and student initiation venue. We do not need another lake, and the ‘benefits’ of having another lake do not outweigh losing respect and co-operation with locals , who the University seems to be treating contemptuously.
It can’t be easy living near a university anyway, with the noise and annoyance of thousands of drunken students. By marginalising the concerns about the lake of the residents nearby, the University is perpetrating a negative image of itself to the public.
One of the biggest problems with the lake is the waterfowl it attracts which, while adorable (I personally hate anything bigger than the ducks) do defecate all over campus and, the geese especially, make a lot of noise. From personal experience, they’re also pretty intimidating. Being trapped in a building by two geese, pecking at the the glass on the doors, taught me that lesson.
It is admittedly quite fun to have the lake on campus; it makes university life that bit more interesting and makes a welcome change from all the grey buildings we have here. But surely good local relations are more important than another large concrete hole in the middle of Hes East?