Oct 23, 2019

A quiet place to think

Photo by Sarah Gilbert / The Collegian
Renovated Peace Garden offers students mounds

After almost 20 years on campus, Fresno State’s famous Peace Garden has had a face lift.

The garden was originally planned around the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a prophet of nonviolence and father of the human rights movement in the 20th century, which was dedicated to Fresno State in 1990.

The idea of a Peace Garden came about originally as a place on campus that could be used to visually promote peace in a “serene environment.”

Soon after the statue was dedicated, the Peace Garden Advisory Committee was formed to pursue this idea.

This is how the garden made its first debut on campus.

Since then, three other statues — of Martin Luther King, Jr., César Chávez and Jane Addams — have joined Gandhi in Fresno State’s Peace Garden.

The addition of the Addams statue, which was unveiled in April 2006, marked the last major change to the garden before construction on the renovated Peace Garden began in June 2008.

Garden designed for summer study

After being closed last semester, the Peace Garden is open again to students.

According to Ryan McCaughey, manager of grounds and arboretum, plans to spruce up the dated garden have been in the works for a while, but the actual transformation only gained headway after the start of the library renovation.

“It’s been in design for a while,” McCaughey said.

“But I think redoing the library was what got the project actually moving.”

With its new, sleek design, the hopes for the Peace Garden are simple: for students to enjoy it.

McCaughey said that parts of the new layout were specifically designed for students and to make the space more inviting.

Photo by Sarah Gilbert / The Collegian

“The mounds were created with the students in mind, so that they could have a place to sit and study outdoors,” McCaughey said.

“In the summer especially, it’s going to be a nice, quiet and contemplative place.”

Along with the addition of grassy mounds, more benches were added for those who prefer not to sit on the grass.

Paved bike paths and walking paths were also added.

“The paving strips were designed to make it easier to cut across campus through the garden,” McCaughey said.

“There is a new cart and bike path on the west end of the garden, by the Family Food and Science building and a new walkway on the west end by the Psychology building.”

Some students indifferent

While the staff at Fresno State’s Plant Operations may be excited about the new garden renovations, some Fresno State students are not so certain they will be using the garden for the sort of studying the planners suggest.

Aubrey Northern, who transferred from California State University, Chico three years ago, said that if it was a nice day and a bench was available, she might consider studying out in the garden area.

“I’m not usually an outdoor person and I’m not going to chill on the grass,” Northern said.

“But it’s pretty and I would sit on a bench out there if there was one available.”

And while the garden has been under various degrees of construction since the start of the 2008-2009 school year, Northern said the renovations didn’t make much of an impression on her.

“I didn’t really notice that they had changed it,” she said.

Other students were also unaware of the changes.

“What’s a Peace Garden?” asked Everet Leyendekker, a freshman studying dairy science.

Leyendekker said he does not plan on using the Peace Garden as a study area.

“I live in a house a few minutes from campus and never study on campus,” Leyendekker said.

Leyendekker was joined by Eddie Dejager, also a freshman, and a student in the agricultural business program.

Dejager also said that he does not see himself spending hours outside studying.

Even if students don’t regularly use the space, the new design will at the very least encourage students to be more aware of the Peace Garden.

Both Leyendekker and Dejager think the new renovation fits the new look of the library next door, and both agree that the Peace Garden will be a nice place to wander around between classes.

“I probably wouldn’t study out there, but I would go around and look at the statues,” Dejager said.

“It complements the library pretty well.”

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