W&J a community asset

April 23, 2013

Though we’ve all been switching on our air conditioners one day and firing up our furnaces the next, spring seems, at long last, to have tightened its grip on our region.

Along with the increased presence of sunshine and blue skies – it seems like years since it’s been here, as the Beatles sang in “Here Comes the Sun” – spring has a way of both revealing beauty and flaws. At the same time trees are blooming and grass is growing in verdant green abundance, we see in sharper relief some of the punishment that buildings and, most particularly, our roads, have taken during winter’s onslaught.

If you want an eyeful of nature’s allure at this time of year and live in Washington, you would be wise to check out the campus of Washington & Jefferson College.

During the spring and fall, W&J is at its picture-postcard finest: shrubs are trimmed and the grass is cut with the precision of a military haircut; flowers are in bloom around campus buildings; the 120-year-old East Wheeling Street home of Tori Haring-Smith, W&J’s president, has flowers blooming around it and appears immaculate, like something out of one of those high-end, glossy magazines that entice us with images of the good life, usually in some far-off, tony locale like Newport, R.I., or Beverly Hills, Calif.

Washington & Jefferson College comes in for its share of criticism within the surrounding community. Its detractors say its students are cloistered, contributing little to the struggling Washington downtown business district, and the college’s tax-exempt status leaves the coffers of Washington, East Washington and the county deprived of much-needed money.

But W&J is a vital community asset. It draws students from both Washington and Greene counties, from the larger Pittsburgh region, around the country and, indeed, the world, and is an important source of jobs, innovation and culture in our area.

Washington would indeed be a poorer place without Washington & Jefferson College.



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