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University decides to remove railings

Blair Arch will soon be the picturesque landmark it once was.

The University announced its decision yesterday to remove three of the four archway railings, USG president David Ascher '99 said. In a "compromise," the railing closest to the U-Store will be redesigned and moved flush with the edge of the steps.


The decision was made in response to a USG resolution that called for the removal of the banisters. The USG presented the proposal to the U-Council in February, where it passed by an "overwhelming majority," Ascher said.

"We're thrilled with the University's willingness to listen to students and to act upon the advice of the U-Council," he said.

Although the issue was discussed among a variety of top administrators, Vice President for Finance and Administration Dick Spies GS '72 shared the final decision with Ascher.

Spies could not be reached for comment.

Spring break adjustments

According to Ascher, the goal is to have the three railings removed and the fourth adjusted over spring break. Director of Physical Planning Jon Hlafter '61 said he had not been informed of the decision but that he expects his office will be involved in the changes.

The decision to install the railings in the first place was made by the Office of Risk Management, in consultation with the University's General Counsel, and was based on liability concerns, Ascher explained.


Ascher said he felt keeping one railing still satisfied the safety and liability concerns that had prompted the original installation.

"People who might need to hang on to a railing will have something at their disposal, but it won't ruin the aesthetics of the entire archway," he said.

Laurel Harvey, director of the risk management office, declined to comment yesterday.

'Student concern'

Ascher said he felt the University's decision addressed "every student concern that we had voiced" concerning the Blair Arch banisters. The USG's concerns revolved around aesthetic issues, safety and the functionality of the arch.

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He said the railings were "poorly placed," "downright ugly" and "mar what is one of the most beautiful and historic sites on campus."

Redesigning and moving the remaining railing will make it much "less obtrusive," Ascher said.

With regard to the safety issue, Ascher said he felt that though the railings were installed to make the arch more safe, they actually had an opposite effect. Rollerbladers and skateboarders flocked to the arch, using the railings for potentially dangerous stunts. The USG included a student-made video depicting such activities in its February presentation to the U-Council.

Ascher said he felt the removal of the three railings and the relocation of the fourth would make the area much less appealing to rollerbladers and skateboarders.

Addressing the arch's functionality, Ascher said he felt the banisters would compromise the use of the arch as a performance space. The presence of the railings would make the Senior Week step-sing virtually impossible, he said.