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Opinion

The crown jewel of the SUNYs, in plain sight

Teachers, textbooks, students, concrete, cars, computers, offices, libraries, printers and classrooms — these are things the average Binghamton student really pays attention to during any regular school day.

Between deadlines and projects, tests and papers, lectures and homework, school surrounds us. Yet there is a place so far removed from this otherwise inescapable reality that it makes all of the daily activities seem irrelevant or, even better, nonexistent. Welcome to the Nature Preserve; she has been waiting for you.

In the Nature Preserve, there is nothing and nobody. The quietude of it all strikes you like a gust of wind. Even the clock tower rings silent if one goes in far enough. It’s amazing how tranquil everything is without all those people, cars and buildings.

And when it snows, it’s like putting on a pair of $600 headphones and pressing the mute button. It is the sound of complete and utter silence, something virtually unheard of on campus grounds.

In all this serenity, it is easy to lose track of time, especially if one has the courage to be momentarily detached from technology. There is nothing else to do besides walk. It is the only way in and the only way out. All the useless information that gets crammed into our heads every day can be released by a simple stroll across the bridge.

It is a place to think, but, at the same time, it is a place to not think. It is difficult and rewarding to be able to totally clear the head for a little while. Academia demands so much from our minds on a daily basis, but because we are surrounded by everything that is school, the sight of nothing but nature becomes that much more stunning.

And then there is the preserve itself. Besides being hands down the most romantic place in Binghamton, it is also the most private. From an overcrowded fraternity party to 100-person lecture halls, from busy dinning halls to loud roommates, suitemates and housemates, where is it ever that you are absolutely alone? Some people cannot be happy unless they are with other people. But one’s privacy, besides being an essential human right, is valuable in and of itself. It can be liberating and even enjoyable to let it all go and just unplug for a while.

Although a walk alone can be boring, there are ways to spice it up. It helps to think of a question, any nonfactual query about yourself, that you hold high in your mind as you walk a trail. Perhaps it will be answered when you are traveling, perhaps not. Either way, it never hurts to ask.

There is also the cathartic experience of screaming at the top of your lungs without anyone thinking you are crazy. Always a great time. There are no cameras (yet) or microphones in the preserve, and we all know there are times that just make you want to shout.

Just as many outside the Northeast fail to recognize the academic excellence and relative affordability of this University, many fellow Binghamton students have yet to discover the reflective glimmer on the crown jewel of the SUNY system that is our Nature Preserve. This school is not know for its elegant architecture or picturesque location, but for all those willing to adventure and explore, there are truly beautiful aspects of the University waiting to be discovered.

Perhaps the best secrets are those left unguarded.

Views expressed in the opinion pages represent the opinions of the columnists.