Declines in mental health. A need for public space. A desire for more research opportunities. What is one way to help ease this all? I argue that a campus aquarium is what we need.
The idea came to me when I was thinking of the many times I have been to aquariums and how great the experiences were. Seeing the fish swim around is therapeutic and relaxing. You can read signs to expand your knowledge on what is in the water, or you can grab a seat to let your mind be soothed by the rhythmic movements of the fish. In these unprecedented times, I think we all need something like that right now.
I think back to an earlier Daily Athenaeum piece concerning a lack of spaces that have a sense of place. I think an aquarium can be a solution to this issue. I can already hear students saying “Hey, have you been to the aquarium? Let’s go have lunch at the aquarium!” An aquarium would be among other places around campus to take a moment to relax with nature, like the Core Arboretum or the Natural History Museum.
Where could this aquarium go? The most logical place would be in Evansdale. First, it makes sense to put an aquarium close to where many Davis College students are. If we are to use an aquarium for research opportunities, many Fisheries and Wildlife faculty and students should be within walking distance.
Second, there are many spots in Evansdale that are being looked at for possible refurbishments or new additions. Recently, there were surveys posted on the walls of the Agricultural Sciences Annex asking about what additions could make the building a favorable space to spend time outside of class. An aquarium would surely do the trick!
That is not the contender, however. Perhaps Floors 2, 3, or 4 of Evansdale Crossing could house an aquarium. Maybe a portion of Percival Hall could be renovated, giving it both the Natural History Museum as well as an aquarium. Even Towers could have an aquarium in the lower levels!
Final points to note include the fact that putting together an aquarium is beneficial in offering jobs, both to build and maintain, and allows us to engage with our off-campus neighbors in Morgantown. I can think of all the families of our area having a great day observing the sights of an aquarium.
Despite whether or not you think this idea is worth pursuing, I think we can all agree that it would be quite fun to have an aquarium on campus.
William Irwin is a third-year student at West Virginia University and a second-year student in the Landscape Architecture program at the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.