Rot. May you rest in paradise on the wings of angels.

Columbia marked the return of in-person classes with new construction on campus. Halfway through the month, in response to a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases, a white plastic beacon peaked up at the center of campus. The start of the semester was messy as guidelines danced around in a game of logistical musical chairs, but there was an odd sense of constancy in the tent.

Not that the tent was stable; a strong breeze would rush through campus, ferociously flap the tent’s curtain-walls, and send shivers down the spines of the several civil engineers sitting inside. That being said, there was stability in the public perception of the tent. Everyone agreed on one thing: the tent sucks. This united undergraduate opinion grounded the boundless and bustling student body. 

However, the stance wasn’t instantaneous despite quick agreement by all. Before that point, the tent enjoyed a short period of appreciation during the oppressively hot days marking the end of Summer. It provided shade—albeit when the doors were closed, it became a greenhouse of epic proportions. This gave the tent a short era of appreciation, an aiding accommodation. But Autumn came along and brought a pleasant, temperate climate and the realization that the one obstacle standing between student happiness and depression was the removal of the tent. The tent’s polls plummeted but, against public opinion, the tent’s poles remained stable.

A quote from a great band of philosophers—a band which, coincidentally, are Columbia alumni—summarizes the emotional atmosphere perfectly: “I see you, you’re walking ‘cross the campus / sad expression, from the tent’s expanses.” In all honesty, miserable is both an overstatement and an understatement; depressive hysteria is hyperbole and litotes. 

Nevertheless, she persisted—the tent, I mean. It remained planted in Low Plaza with neither an  intention nor a sign of leaving. It seemed as though it may become a year-long addition. Great. Wonderful. Fantastic. Ruinous to Instagram photos. But it became known to students a few weeks ago that the tent’s lifetime was ending. It was leaving, crossing the rainbow (law) bridge. It was packed away on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, after less than half a year of life. Still, it lived more than most during that time.

The Low tent is survived by the Dodge Plaza, Ancell Plaza, Hamilton Lawn, and Furnald Lawn tents. Bwog reached out to the family for comment, but because they are tents, they were unable to comment. However, their swaying was especially melancholic, so take that how you will.

Ultimately, the Low Plaza Tent quickly became a staple of the Fall 2021 semester. Whether you loved or hated it, there was some influence it held over you—perhaps because it was nearly impossible for a student to go a day without seeing it. It obstructed a major artery of foot traffic, forcing students to go around or bravely walk through it. It also obstructed photos, undoubtedly distinctly dating photos with its pitched plastic pose. Such influence on student life was typical for the Low Plaza Tent. It gave up care of public opinion to exist and shadow the square.

That’s something to admire about the Low Plaza tent. It lived and lived and lived and lived. People disliked it, hated it even, and it lived, continued living, and showed no signs of stopping. The Low Plaza tent observed everything around campus this semester. It was witness to wonders and the woes. It lived a colorful life and, at times, a colorless life, a complicated and sometimes turbulent life, but also a life enveloping the blissful smiles of passersby seated inside. 

Now it’s gone, and Low Plaza is newly opened. I’m thankful—so very thankful. There’s electricity on campus. I can see my friends—both old, present, and future—all enjoying the radiant light from the warm days this past week. I can’t help but feel sentimental somehow. I imagine the tent whispering “I am happy to be alive as long as I can sway” while the maintenance team took it down. Yet, as I cross the plaza, I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing. I still instinctually go around the center of the plaza to get to class. It’s sacred ground now. But every passing day, the hurt gets a little weaker, the Low Plaza-shaped hole in my heart healing just a little more and becoming whole once again.

Low Tent Demolition via Bwogger