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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trinity's Catapedaphobia Tower

I have a couple problems. First, I would like to go through a whole day without seeing an ad - on the Internet, on TV, in a magazine, or in my cereal bowl - that doesn't feature the woman from the Progressive insurance commercials. I know people like her. I just guess... don't. My other problem is called Catapedaphobia. I don't love that it has the words "cat" and "peda" in it, but that's another issue. Recently, the Trinity Murchison Tower was refurbished, including a repainting of the side of the top of the tower, called the fascia, and replacement of the soffit, the underside of the top of the side of the tower. (See poll at right.) The grates on the full-length sides, adjacent to the stairs, have been removed for repainting and hopefully, re-installation.

When I tell people of my phobia, Catapedaphobia, they often dismiss it. But when I find someone who shares this affliction, it is akin to meeting a lost twin or a fellow Milwaukee Bucks fan. We know what it is like to be in a misunderstood minority. The phobia is that one fears he or she will inexplicably jump from a high place against his or her own will. I KNOW! Why would you jump from a place you were afraid of falling from? I DON'T KNOW! If it was rational it wouldn't be a phobia, it would just be a fear, like getting in trouble for not cleaning out the lint filter of the dryer. I only have this phobia in open spaces: on a ferris wheel, in the tower, and on those creepy hotel walkways that are 20 stories up and open to the inside of the building.

People on campus were excited to see the huge crane that towered over the tower (ToT, as we call it in the profession). It's like seeing fire trucks or Eva Longoria. Even so, some poor guys were up in the basket (sounds secure) to do the repairs, which I just can't fathom. This all begs the questions: Why do we need to re-paint a roof that we need a crane to see? And, did they change the light bulb when they were up there? (They didn't.)

The Trinity tower had just been a plain old tower for some time until someone decided to light it at night, I think, as a beacon of higher education to the San Antonio community. (The then President flipped a ceremonial switch and there was a lag between that and when the electrician flipped the real switch, which is my lasting memory of the night of the first lighting.) I like to think of this era as Tower 2.0. Problem was, when students then wanted to participate in astronomy lab from the adjacent academic building, the tower lights obscured the view. So when the tower is not lit at night the community can rest peacefully, knowing some Trinity students are on a rooftop studying stars. Or something else. At least this time, astronomy won.

Typically, the students are allowed in the tower twice: When they arrive as new students, and right before they graduate. The Trinity President awaits students at the top to shake their hands. I hate these tower climbs. I am always worried, because of my phobia, that someone forgot to screw in the grates properly and some clusters of students will fall out of the tower because they leaned on a grate. You worry about these things when you are a Dean of Students. I haven't decided how I feel about this year's upcoming climb. Could be the re-installation means more secure grates, OR that someone forgot to properly re-install a grate. Either way, I will stay on the ground. And a few steps back. Graduating students, by the way, can purchase a brick to inscribe a message onto for the price of the year. Cost this year was $20.10.

The University purchased a GO SPURS GO banner, a San Antonio tradition, about five years ago to proudly display from the tower during playoff time. I love this banner, which ushered in the 3.0 tower era. If all goes well this fall, that era will include holiday lights on the tower to reflect our seasonal spirit outward to the San Antonio community. I suppose this commercialization of the tower could be met with skepticism. But I think you have to sometimes draw attention to your best features -- and the expanded use of the tower gives us that opportunity. If you've got it, flaunt it. Just don't worry about jumping off it.

This video doesn't enhance the story. I just wanted to see if I could embed it!


Anonymous said...

I thought I told you it was a 'soffit', not a 'soffet'. I even wrote it on the board for you. Must be the result of that Wisconsin education.

Red Bricks-Green Campus

The Kemps said... that GO SPURS GO sign blue and white? I can't see it well. It made me think of the sorority SPURS (blue and gold, I believe) instead of the basketball team (black and white). I'll say a little prayer for you and all those with your phobia - may you never take such a leap!

Anonymous said...

Dean Tuttle I always knew you were hilarious and my perceptions are heightened even more after reading this entry. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

I dislike the girl from the progressive commercials as well but I appreciate your comical use of photos of her throughout your blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dad,
This was posted on my birthday, and I'm not mentioned at all. I mean, come on... I dedicated a whole facebook status to the date of your birth! But whatever you just owe me a Quincey.

Anonymous said...

Dean Tuttle: I will miss your blogs, both thoughtful and relentlessly funny, when my son graduates. I have catapedaphobia also, but only on artificial structures, I am fine on cliffs, go figure. Never knew there was a condition and name for it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am just reading "The Seven Secrets" by John Hagee and on page #5 he mentions this "Some students who could not achieve the academic dream of their wealthy fathers climbed the stairs of the prayer tower and leaped to their deaths". is this a fact??????????

David Tuttle said...

I have never heard that re our tower. Maybe it was a different tower - or metaphorical. Ours is enclosed so there is no way to take a plunge...