Bursting the Bubble: Where’s our sand Stanford?

Opinion by Edward Ngai
May 9, 2012, 12:28 a.m.

Bursting the Bubble: Where's our sand Stanford?Sometime between Thanksgiving break and the Christmas holidays, the jackhammering began on what was the parking lot between Wilbur Hall and its more awesome counterpart, Stern Hall.

Work began each weekday morning at 7:30, much to the chagrin of east-facing Stern residents (myself included). Trucks rolled in, beeped in reverse, then rolled out. Fences were erected, cruelly forcing Sternians to walk all the way to Escondido (quelle horreur!) to get their pho fix at “Wilbs.”

Yeah, we complained about it, but isn’t it all worth it now? As spring turns to summer here in paradise, one look out the window confirms that the faux field currently occupying the space between Stern and Wilbur is much preferable to the unsightly asphalt that was there this time last year. Every Friday, rubber pellets may just as well be grains of sand, as (mostly) underclassmen lay about in their swimsuits to welcome the weekend.

It was a long process — grass was laid down, then pulled up, then laid down again. But everyone seems happy now. Don’t like turf? Wilbur Field is three steps away.  (“Too far!” we still complain.) New basketball courts are popular, judging from the sounds of the balls bouncing into the wee hours of the morning. It seems everyone’s happy these days.

That is, everyone except my baseball-cap bearing, bro-tank clad, longboard (“shortboard!” he insists) riding, guitar-playing, Facebook-rejecting, California hipster of a roommate. The most laid-back guy in Burbank. Whatever could draw his ire?

That circular asphalt pit on Escondido (“A metaphysical symbol reminding us of the days when the field was a parking lot,” I offer as if I were in an IHUM section) that was surely intended, months ago, to be two beach volleyball courts.

“They were rushing to get it done before Parents’ Weekend,” he conjectures. “And the day before Parents’ Weekend they pulled all their resources, drove all the trucks away, and haven’t done anything since.”

I asked him how he was sure.

“It’s a safe assumption, dude.”

(He’s an expert, you see.)

This from a Santa Barbara kid who grew up on the beaches and spends full days at the courts. At the beginning of construction in December, peering out the window at an ungodly early hour, he realized that beach volleyball courts were being built a stone’s throw — literally — from our window.

And he was stoked. Like more stoked than usual, which is kind of difficult cause he’s always stoked on something. “It’ll be done before spring quarter,” he assured me.

And as suddenly and frenetically as everything else was built, construction on the courts was abandoned.

Everything’s done. There’s an elevated storm drain that needs some work, but all the courts need is a dump truck filled with sand and some nets. It’s been this way for two months.

But instead of kids out there screaming at each other (“Over!” “Free!” “Short!” “You go!” “F*ck!”), we’ve got a big pit surrounded by litter — Gatorade bottles on weekdays, Coronas on weekends — and dirt on a nice but very obviously unfinished recreational area.

It’s unseemly, especially in contrast to the beautifully manicured Wilbur Field, or the beautifully low-maintenance turf field. And considering the entire project — the field, the picnic tables, the basketball courts, the paving — is complete except for the sand in the volleyball courts, it’s about time a dump truck came and completed the job.

It may be two months overdue, but let’s add the unmistakable barking of volleyball players to the summertime sounds of bouncing basketballs and baseballs hitting leather.

Just a little sand, please, and let the kids play.


Ed had never touched a volleyball before April but now he’s hooked and always down for a game. Challenge him and his (vastly superior) roommate at edngai “at” stanford “dot” edu

Edward Ngai is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously, he has worked as a news desk editor, staff development editor and columnist. He was president and editor-in-chief of The Daily for Vol. 244 (2013-2014). Edward is a junior from Vancouver, Canada studying political science. This summer, he is the Daniel Pearl Memorial Intern at the Wall Street Journal.

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