Garfield Avenue wall construction underway

Wall separating campus from students will ‘weed out the bad seeds’


Story by Anne Sandell, News Editor

After four years of extensive campaigning, the Garfield Avenue Wall Committee has finally broken ground on the “big beautiful wall” blocking students from campus.

Ronald Slump, Committee Chair of Wall Affairs, said the 70-foot-high barricade was an essential step toward securing campus and protecting UW-Eau Claire’s long tradition of academic scholarship and prestige.

“We’re going to protect the campus,” Slump said. “We have some good-for-nothing students here, and we’re going to get them out. We have to weed out the bad seeds. Out with the old, in with the new.”

The 15-mile wall running along the perimeter of campus is intended to keep out nearly all undergraduate students currently enrolled at Eau Claire and is scheduled to be finished by 2020.

According to Slump, the wall is the culmination of years of escalating tensions between students and the administration, since Eau Claire dropped to fourth place in a statewide survey designating the most prestigious UW system schools that aren’t Madison.

Every morning students are “flooding” down the hill wreaking havoc on the new Davies Center and Centennial building, while also destroying age-old textbooks donated by the likes of Benedict Arnold, Slump said.

“We really value knowledge at Eau Claire, and when students smear their grubby paws on the library books and the brand new floor-to-ceiling walls in Centennial, it ruins the experience for the rest of campus,” Slump said.

The stark divide between campus and students is far from over. University officials are forcing students to pay for the wall through their tuition, but will not be allowing undergraduate students on campus until further notice.

“We will be keeping only prospective students inside the wall for now,” Chancellor James C. Schmidt said. “At least until current students can prove they have a positive influence on our image as a university.”

Somwur Ovadawall, a first-year education student, is frustrated she will be required to continue paying tuition fees despite not being allowed on campus.

When she returned from spring break, she was disappointed to find she could no longer easily walk to campus from her dorm as she had been expecting.

“I just don’t understand how you can be a college [AND] not allow your students inside,” Ovadawall said. “Like, what am I even paying for?”

Despite students frustration over the changes, construction crews broke ground on the first segment of the wall on March 20, with fences bolstering “Keep Out” signs.

The first segment will divide upper from lower campus, while the entire university is set to be enclosed by 2020. Negotiations are still underway in order to retain Haas and the Human Sciences and Services building inside the enclosure.

Bob Duhbuilder, a member of the construction crew, never imagined he would be building a wall around an entire college campus, but he said he has been pleasantly surprised by the cheerful work environment.

“Everyone is supportive, reminding each other that excellence is always under construction,” He said. “Can we build the greatest wall of all time? Yes we can.”