After the school bell signals the end of a period, we hastily cram our books into our bags, rush out of the classrooms, and squeeze our way through the clogged paths to the buildings where our next classes take place. Every extra minute we waste on “travel time” will earn us a frown from our next teacher and stain our attendance record with two more APs. It’s in moments like these that the temptation to take a shortcut across the grass straight to our destination begins to grow.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of giving in to this temptation. While cutting across the grass brings us faster to where we need to be, doing so won’t save us more than a minute on a campus like Deerfield’s, where school buildings are clustered relatively close together. The one minute we do save, however, comes at a high cost. By trampling on the tender shoots that have just sprouted from recently planted seeds, we crush the soil in which they’re growing. In turn, the denser soil exerts a pressure on the seedling cells that the developing cell walls can’t support. Although it’s true that, thanks to its remarkable resilience, some grass can thrive under the weight of our feet, it stands no chance against consistent damage. Unfortunately, the most efficient path between two locations on campus often requires us to walk across the grass. And if we continue to use it like a real path, we will transform it into one in no time, carving out a long, soil-brown scar on Deerfield’s lush, green lawn. This would be especially unfortunate around the time of Commencement, when we ideally want our campus to look its best.
Even if, for some of us, the beauty of our campus doesn’t occupy a high place on our list of priorities, we should still take a minute to consider all the time and effort that the Physical Plant has invested in making sure that every seedling grows in the right place, receives the right amount of water and nutrients, and sprouts at the right time. Instead of nature’s work, we should remember that each of these seedlings is the result of professional human care, which we have no right to destroy. As hard-working Deerfield students, we can imagine too well what it would feel like if our teachers gave us an F on the paper we’ve been mulling over all week. Meanwhile, the Physical Plant has been tending our grass fields for months. When we stomp all over these fields, we’re giving their work the equivalent of the abhorred F that none of us wants to receive on a paper.
Many of us used to be chronic grass-crossers, including myself. However, after the Physical Plant’s repeated requests that we change the bad habit, we can’t keep pretending that we’re unaware of the trouble we’re causing them when we ravage our campus. Nevertheless, when we see others tread on forbidden ground, we let their actions dictate our own and proudly trail behind them, reasoning that the option the crowd chooses must be a safe one, if not a right one. Subconsciously, most of us know that following the crowd doesn’t justify our individual decisions, but right and wrong no longer matter when we’re guaranteed that the crowd will take on the burden of our responsibility for those decisions. As proven by many students and faculty members who have reminded us to stay off the grass over the past few weeks, our community members still hold some respect for the work of the Physical Plant as well as for our environment and its role in the Deerfield experience. If all of us just go the extra mile to do the same, we will see our collaborative effort reflected in a greener campus.