December 1, 2020

Letters to the editor

To Whom It May Concern:

I have recently been informed that the new Sasaki Master Plan involves the demolition of Pearson House. As a student of Webster in general and of the English department, I strongly urge you to reconsider this plan.

I would begin by stating that the Pearson House accounts for nearly half of the reason I decided to attend Webster in the first place. Not only the building, which is quaint and inviting, but also the ideas behind the house, encouraged my excitement about coming to Webster. In my college search, I first and foremost considered the class size and intimacy of a college. On first entering the Pearson House, I was convinced by its small, warm classrooms that this was the place where I wanted to hone my skills as a writer and reader. Pearson spoke to me that Webster University was a small, liberal arts school that cared about the comfort and educations of its students, fostering the exact kind of one-on-one interactions between students, staff, and faculty that I sought.

Pearson convinced me that, unlike the other giant universities I was considering, Webster provided a unique experience: placing more importance on the individual student’s success and college experience than on the money to be gained from a larger student body. Pearson houses and fosters the community of the English department in a way no other building successfully could. The aforementioned class sizes and inviting classrooms allow for intimate readings and discussions while also providing an atmosphere that encourages the building of community in writing workshops, which require such a bond of the students and professor if the class is to be successful. In addition to this, the green spaces of Pearson provide a unique opportunity to broaden the reach of the classroom. On spring and summer days, students and professors can interact with the material they are studying in nature and often professors organize their syllabi around this capability; works such as Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream “and Thoreau’s “Walden” lend themselves to outdoor readings and discussions. In light of this, I doubt that a traditional brick building could provide all of the charm and usefulness of Pearson’s patios, lawn, and French doors. All of these qualities distinguish Pearson House from all of the other buildings on campus. Webster students, faculty, and staff know that Pearson houses the English and Philosophy departments, not simply because it does, but because the character of the house itself suggests that this fact is so. Pearson lends itself, by the character of its appearance and the quirks of its rooms, to housing English and Philosophy courses.

Until now, I have been happy to call myself a student at Webster University and would go so far as to say that I was an advocate of the school to anyone I knew who was searching for the perfect fit that I found here at Pearson House nearly three years ago. However, if Webster University continues with the current plan to demolish the Pearson House, I doubt that I will ever be able to feel quite as at home on the campus as I did before, nor will I be able to suggest half as strongly that others attend classes here. The entire philosophy that solidified my decision to attend Webster would be demolished along with the Pearson House. The ideals of individuality and intimacy for which Pearson stands in my mind and in the minds of my fellow students comprise a single philosophy that single-handedly distinguishes Webster University from all the other universities in the state of Missouri. If Pearson House goes, so does this distinctive philosophy and, with it, the integrity of Webster University as a liberal arts institution, not only in my eyes, but in the eyes of future students who ultimately would have fallen in love with Pearson as I, and many other students before me, have.
Sincerely,
Mariah Nadler, creative writing major, class of 2013
Dear Journal Staff,

As a student whose education has occurred mainly in the Pearson House, I was devastated to discover that there are plans for its destruction. I would like to submit this opinion piece about the value of the building: Some people aren’t quite sure what happens within the brick walls of the Pearson House. It’s big and it’s white, but that’s about as much as they’ve gathered. Others had a class in there during their freshman year; some general education class that assigned way too many papers.

To students in the Philosophy or English departments, the Pearson House is the building where their education exists, as if the building itself represents the very education that they are receiving. To demolish it and locate its departments elsewhere would be tragic to the students who regard the building so dearly.

The Pearson House offers four classrooms, which are flexible in their set up. This allows for spur-of-the-moment desk reorganization allowing for small group conversations or debate-style arrangements. The size of the classrooms often relates to the size of the class, creating an intimate setting in which the students feel comfortable and can get to know one another. The basement offers lounge space, vending machines, and computers for student use. In addition to its utility, the building creates an irreplicable learning environment.

The wooden floors, original fireplace, courtyard, and the creepy side of the basement are incomparable to the students who consider them to be a vital part of their Webster experience. The building and its environment is relaxed, yet professional. Stimulating, yet simple. Classic, yet functional. Upon first step into the building’s foyer, a sense of comfort and calm overcomes the entrant. Its outward appearance, stoic, vast, and stunning, gives hint to the love that is felt for the building by those who spend their days there.

A different Webster exists in each of its students, and the buildings in which our education is based serves as a major part of that identity. The Sverdrup building functions as it should for business and technology students to whom electronics and functionality is crucial. Webster Hall is home to the sciences, providing classrooms, labs, and offices necessary to its programs. The Priest House, as with the Pearson House, offers a sound familiarity and house-like ease of use. Currently, Webster offers a functional variation in the classroom environments on its campus, with each building supporting the education that is occurring within them. If the current master plan were to be approved, the Pearson House will be slated for destruction. If this happens, the house isn’t the only thing that will be damaged. The students, past, present, and future, will be affected by its removal from the campus that we so love.

The Pearson House isn’t just a house; it’s our home.

Thanks,
Megan Summers, Webster University student
Dear Journal,

I transferred to Webster University as a sophomore after spending a year feeling like a piece of livestock at a large state university. While the beautiful grounds, small campus and quaint neighborhood all factored into my decision to become a Webster student, Pearson House sealed the deal. From my first campus visit I was smitten with it and the next three years simply proved that my gut feeling was right.

I have bragged on this element of my Webster education both as a student, and now as an alum. I love the nontraditional, innovative use of space. I have touted the benefits of this, both for the larger community and the university at length.
—Utilizing these homes allows Webster University flow almost seamlessly into Webster Groves, something that allows for an important relationship between the school and the city.
—The ongoing cultivation of small, intimate spaces requires students, faculty and staff to connect on levels that go beyond the classroom or the halls.
—The unique and characterful nature of Pearson House lends itself to creative pursuits in ways that new, technologically advanced buildings cannot.

I hope to be able to continue to speak of these virtues when I talk about Webster University and the remarkable effect it had on my young adult life. To lose a beautiful building that so innovatively and creatively promotes the intimate connection necessary for liberal arts education would be regrettable to say the least.

Please consider preserving this space and what it represents as a crucial part of the Webster University campus.

Best Regards,
Sarah Ratermann Beahan
Webster University alumna, class of 2001

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