New Deering meadow fence garners mixed reviews

Meghan Morris

Northwestern Facilities Management replaced hedges and a chain-link fence between Sheridan Road and Deering Meadow with a 600-foot-long wrought-iron fence, which was completed last week.

Facilities Management associate vice president Ron Nayler said the new fence aligns with the design of the 1906 iron arch on Sheridan Road.

“Before this fence was put in, there were portions of a chain-link fence there that were in pretty bad shape,” Nayler said. “What we wanted to do is really open up the views into the campus.”

The new metal fence runs from the small arch to the Jacobs Center. Nayler said discussions about the project began last year with the NU Associated Student Government, which he said supported taking out the hedges and chain-link fence.

Since the fence’s construction, Nayler said alumni, trustees, faculty and students have given him positive feedback.

“People love the ability to have more of a view into the campus,” Nayler said. “They like the open feelings presented with deleting all those shrubs.”

Medill sophomore Denise Lu said she preferred the hedges, which were more inviting than the new fence.

“The field was fine before, but now it’s just an obstruction of traffic,” she said. “It’s very unwelcoming. It gives other people the sense we don’t want them on campus.”

A similar metal fence was installed in 1898. In 1970, NU students removed pieces of the fence from the ground during a protest against the killing of four anti-Vietnam War students at Kent State University. They barricaded Sheridan Road with portions of the fence and formed what they called “The Free State of Northwestern,” according to the NU Archives.

Sam Rong, a Medill sophomore, said he liked the bushes more than the current fence. He said though he liked the natural look of hedges, the fences fit well with the arch’s design.

“It’s aesthetically pleasing, even if it’s not as ecologically great,” Rong said.

Second-year graduate student Jose Mendez said he barely noticed a change when he first passed the new fence. He said he has mixed feelings about the change, because he liked the hedges but said the fence is more open.

“I’d rather have a fence with ivy, and maybe hummingbirds and butterflies,” he joked. “As long as they don’t put in barbed wire, it’s fine.”

Nayler said the next major construction project will be the new Bienen School of Music building on the lakefront. Al Cubbage, vice president for university relations, previously told The Daily construction of the music building will begin in May and will last approximately three years.

[email protected]