Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Killing me lightly
Of course, I should explain that this is a project I have been intimately involved with. It dates back to ASR wanting to do something for the holidays to compete with the "Light the Way" Incarnate Word University lights. The idea was to do something unique to Trinity, something understated by comparison to our neighbors, and something attention-grabbing. As those students moved on, I was left to pursue this project. My former VPs wouldn't advance my modest capital request for funding, citing other priorities, so I did it myself when I was interim VP.
Lighting the tower was the perfect response to our neighbors and to do something different. In Ben's column, unfortunately not published on-line, he takes issues with the lights as being tacky and in some ways as defiling of the monument the tower is to this bastion of education.
Indeed, the initial plan was to line the tower in lights from top to bottom ala some of the buildings of downtown Dallas. This proved to be too expensive. That is probably good. Our first lighting guy, Shawn, suggested that we just outline the windows. This has turned out well, in my opinion. The lights are not over-powering, can be seen throughout campus and from the highway and neighborhood, but do not overwhelm.
The lights themselves, are a series of small tubes and they can be lit for holidays and special occasions. They are currently pink, because it is October. Other shows include ones for Christmas, Hanukah, Halloween, New Year's elction days, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, and more. They are not always lit, but are illuminated for these special occasions. The best part for me, is that our second light guy, Mike, has set up these lights so I no longer physically have to run up to the top of the tower to change SIM cards. With his expertise and the hard work of Clara Wells in my office I can manage the light shows from an app on my phone. This is probably the only real power I have on campus.
That the lights disrespect or commercialize our great institution seems a flawed argument. We aren't the first to do this. One need only look at Big Ben, the Empire State Building, and the Eiffel Tower to see that we are in decent company. (Surely some French dude is out there blogging about the Trinity Tower in his own lighting defense.) In San Antonio the Quarry smoke stacks, to the north, are lit, and to the south, so is the Tower of the Americas.
I know, if someone jumped off of a festively lit bridge, would we? No. But we are not out of line with these sweet little lights: They are festive, fun, measured, tasteful, and draw attention to this beautiful campus. They show innovation and that we don't take ourselves too seriously - except for maybe me. Their installation was supported by the student government and the alumni. They show that we are not just internally focused, but are part of this festive city. For these reasons, they gently add to the fabric of what makes us stand-out in a crowded educational marketplace.
So it is my way... or the Conway. Vote on the poll at right.