Take pride in a beautiful ‘U’

Get outside, get involved and own a piece of the University’s beautification.

Today is Beautiful “U” Day, an annual event cleverly scheduled to coincide with Earth Day and designed to get students involved in making our school cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. This year, the event’s committee has come up with plenty of ways for you to get involved, so get outside and own a piece of the beautification.

Take two hours to help repaint the Washington Avenue Bridge’s exterior. If you’re a St. Paul campus student, you can get in on being artsy by helping stencil storm drains with warnings that the drains empty into the Sarita Wetland. Or compete in the Science Classroom Building’s “Custodial Challenge.”

The Southeast Como neighborhood, with the Minnesota Student Association and the University, will plant and dedicate a tree in Van Cleve Park to Elizabeth Wencl, Amanda Speckien and Brian Heiden, the three University students who died in a house fire last fall. It’s an appropriate memorial that will be followed later this spring by more trees being planted throughout the University and surrounding communities through Unitree. More green on and near campus is always a welcome change from pavement and asphalt.

If you’re stuck in class during the volunteer opportunities, try to make it to one of the Beautiful “U” speaker events. Most notable will be University of California-Los Angeles professor Jared Diamond and University professor G. David Tilman’s “Great Conversations” talk, “Predicting the World’s Ecological Future,” which should cater to scientists and anthropologists alike by exploring human civilization’s impact on global ecosystems. Break out of your comfort-zone laboratory or library and learn about your impact on our environment.

If you do try to get involved in Beautiful “U” Day, remember that the beautification process doesn’t stop after one day in April. Take responsibility for keeping our urban-yet-attractive campus pretty: Put trash and cigarette butts in appropriate receptacles. Appreciate and respect the nice, grassy areas we do have. Walk or bike instead of further clogging up Washington Avenue. Learn something about a hot local environmental issue and take a stance on it. And for everyone’s sake, take pride in our fair University campus, and treat it as such.