Homecoming Edition: Al Rasheed: Kids these days: Recent infrastructural changes will leave outgoing students, returning alumni with a bitter taste

By Sophia Al Rasheed / Columnist

To those of you who have graduated and ventured off to new and exciting places, a sincere welcome back. 

Perhaps you have moved to quieter, less bustling areas or more exciting, fast-paced cities. Either way, it’s safe to say that Pitt can act as a decent stepping stone for wherever you might decide to move next. 

Unlike typical campuses, ours prepares us with skills of living in a diverse area filled with real people, ensuring that you can sleep in almost any noisy condition from here onward and, perhaps more importantly than we realize, teaching us to always look both ways when a bus lane is involved. 

As you can see, these things have not changed at Pitt. You’re still going to be greeted by aggressive traffic bustling down Forbes and Fifth avenues, helicopters interrupting conversations and people who move at a pace that never seems to match up with yours. You may, however, notice some changes on this campus. Now, I’m not going to say that you might be a bit bitter, but even as a senior who can still enjoy these changes for a year, I find myself holding back from telling freshman that back in my day, we didn’t have it this good.

I’ll start with the most crucial change to campus. Remember all those nights at the library when we had to plan to finish the majority of our work by 2 a.m.? Well, kids these days can access the library at far later hours than that. The Hillman Library announced last year that it would extend its hours of operation to 24-hour access during weekdays for the entire semester, not strictly for finals week. Night owls of last year had to manage their time to fit a limited deadline, but now students can actually walk into the building late at night to begin their studying. 

In addition to upgrading its hours, the library’s computer labs — along with every other lab on campus — upgraded their technology with faster computers, charging stations and designated “quick-print” stations to avoid congestion during busy hours. How many times have you been stuck behind someone scrolling Facebook or watching cat videos while you were waiting to print an essay within five minutes?

One final note on Hillman: We can walk into the building from more than one side now, because construction of Hillman’s patio is finally complete. You might have to experience this to understand. It is everything.

Speaking of construction, maybe some of you were fortunate enough to live along Fifth Avenue, as I did back in my Holland Hall days. If you’re unsure if you lived here, think back to whether you remember constant jackhammering and construction taking place at the building next to the Bellefield Church. Well, that pile of loudness is gone, and they built a whole new dorm for freshmen to live in. You don’t even want to get me started.

Each room has a flat-screen TV, refrigerator, microwave and air conditioning. The building also includes a large fitness center, laundry rooms on every floor and other amenities that you can brood over by looking at the Pitt housing website.

Now, not to sound bitter, but the best thing about my freshman dorm was that it wasn’t in the Wyndham. But surely there were some benefits to living in not-air-conditioned, non-fitness-equipped Holland. I socialized more and had to walk only a few feet to get to the cramped Amos gym that the entire population of the quad was expected to share, which has since turned into Pitt’s version of Au Bon Pain: the Oakland Bakery & Fresh Market.

But we didn’t need cute, homemade foods when we had the deliciousness of Market Central waiting for us just around the corner, right? Well if the fact that you no longer have the excuse to simply swipe and eat to your little, over-stressed underclassman heart’s desire, think about the fact that now kids are doing just that with a soft-serve ice cream station and extended seating. Quick Zone caught up with the trend, as well, now featuring aisles through which people over the age of six are able to fit.

Finally, the campus bookstore, which you saw going through an identity crisis between its location in the quad and the location on Forbes Avenue, finally looks like a campus bookstore. Completely remodeled, you can purchase even more products here now, including computers and makeup. 

In all seriousness, it’s nice to see the campus and its many loose construction ends cleaned up, and these final changes are a nice representation of the many improvements that we can attribute to Chancellor Nordenberg during his dedicated position at the University. Although the city atmosphere will never make Pitt feel like a traditional college campus, the new amenities have done a great job of making it feel like one internally. Let’s just pretend that you newest alumni were specially chosen to see the improvements in full swing.

Write Sophia at [email protected].