You can see the tower of Rush Rhees Library from almost anywhere on campus. I think there’s one spot—if you stand directly in front of the Frederick Douglass Building—where you can’t see it. Other than that, it’s visible from basically everywhere, including inside some buildings and within a decent radius off campus. There’s been a number of times when it’s guided me home from somewhere, lit my path back from a late night of studying or been a steady, comforting sight in a moment of need.

When I first visited campus, the tower almost beckoned to me. It was so regal, so powerful, such a monument to the knowledge I would learn here. Although it sits atop the library, its presence extends much farther all throughout campus. It’s like the tower knew we wouldn’t just learn in the library.

I still remember my first night on campus. I was here early for UR Foot, and campus was pretty empty. I was excited to be here. I could feel the potential around me, and it made me nervous. I was walking back from Danforth Dining Center alone, and, at one point, it became too much. I don’t usually get nervous, so my confusion at the nervousness was compounding the anxiety. I was thinking about all the things in my life; all the things that had been my life; all the things my life was going to be. It was dark and the place was new and I felt like I was on a precipice, much like many of us probably do right now. My breathing quickened, my thoughts exploded, my heart started racing. And I looked up. And I saw the Rush Rhees tower. And I felt great. The tower wasn’t looming; it was uplifting. I felt powerful and confident and at home.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one for cheesy stories, so believe me when I say I’m not embellishing all that much. Whenever I look up at that tower now, I have that same feeling of content—not complacent content, but the burning happiness that inspires so much. I always smile.

That first night here, it was a symbol of what could be of my time on campus. Now, as I look back, it’s a symbol of all that has been of my time on campus and a symbol of what my life will be beyond it. I see the first day of warm weather every spring, with the Eastman Quad packed with bright students and swinging hammocks, playing in the sun. I see long walks freshman year, struggling to find our way back from Southside, stopping to chase rabbits at 2 a.m. and meeting new friends. I see the tower on my diploma frame that will hopefully hang in every office I ever work; I see times when school was too hard, too much, walking out of a final exam and straight back to bed, and then realizing it wasn’t so bad when I woke up. I see long nights in Goergen, with white boards, notes, dry erase markers and wonderful people. I see the tower on t-shirts—all around the country, all around the world—on the backs of my fellow ‘Jackets; I see times when our community had troubles, when I needed a reminder of what we were fighting for; I see brisk, breezy nights, sitting by the river, sharing secrets and more, making lifelong friends, learning to love. The people I’ve met here and the lessons I’ve learned are all wrapped up in that tower, every time I look at it. It’s going to be so hard to leave it behind.

But, we’re on the rise: all of us and our University too. Our community goes far beyond campus and I know this. Our experience here will go far beyond the physical view of the tower and I know this too. I know this is not the end of our time as Yellowjackets, but just the beginning.

You can see the Rush Rhees tower from almost anywhere on campus. I’m fairly convinced, however, that I’ll be able to see it from just about anywhere in the world.

Esce is a member of the class of 2015, is the outgoing Students’ Association President and is a former Campus Times Editor-in-Chief. 

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