Rochester is midway through the winter season, which brings with it one of the more unfortunate quirks of UR student life — endless gray skies. 

I’ve learned to savor when the sun decides to pop out for a visit in Rochester. You take the sun for granted until you realize in early autumn that your free trial of natural vitamin D is almost up. The clouds add an extra layer of weight on top of the stress everyone’s already feeling. 

But I’m not here to talk about the lack of light in the sky — I’m here to talk about the lack of light in campus buildings. The dimness (especially at night) of our buildings makes them feel like one of those office spaces with weak, fluorescent lighting. You can imagine how little this helps with seasonal depression. 

But I think there’s a solution that might not even be that difficult to implement. And I think it might be just what UR needs right now. 

We need more light, so why not get creative with it? 

We all go to a school with very creative people. We go to a school with engineers dying to get their hands on something to build, a school full of programmers who would love a challenge, a school brimming with artists and leaders. We have the capability to create a series of light installations around our campus. 

UR can embark on creating spaces that are vibrant and lit to battle the gray skies that have conquered campus ambiance for too long. We can create indoor environments that provide relief from both the freezing outdoor temperatures and the dismal (absence of) daylight.

Take Hirst Lounge, for example. UR took away our flags, so they might as well give us lighting to fill the vacant space. Or, you know, give us back the flags. How’s the flag committee doing, by the way? 

Gleason Library would be a great place for a cool light installation, too. Or how about Feldman Ballroom? We could harness the creativity of our student body for future events in a post-COVID-19 era.

A 2016 study found that dynamic lighting can improve learning performance. A lack of natural light in Rochester is no excuse to ignore the benefits of light for studying

A campus lighting project would be perfect for interdisciplinary work — an important facet of education that we could all use more of. I find it difficult to mix with other majors as an engineer with little room for extra classes. It takes extra effort to expose yourself to interdisciplinary projects and ideas. I don’t think it’s bad for one to have to take initiative, but wouldn’t a lighting project be a great in? 

Think of the tours, UR! Think of the parents and potential Yellowjackets who can walk by these cool light installations, and what you can say about them! The possibilities are endless! 

Tour jokes aside, this could be the boost we need right now as a community. How many of us are still feeling the exhaustion of the fall semester? And to think we at least got to start that semester with some warmth and light.

iZone’s lighting is a great example of what we could have. It’s dynamic, cool, welcoming, and keeps you up at 1 a.m. rather than pulling you into sleep like dim fluorescent lights. A bad light functions like a lullaby when you’re cramming late at night. No Starbucks or energy drinks will save you then. 

The cold and dark brings a new layer of exhaustion to what’s been an exhausting year. But maybe an indoor lighting project could be that light at the end of the tunnel.

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