The birds and the lights: Mason’s battle against nature

One of the things that I love about George Mason University is that we’re constantly upgrading and improving our campus. One thing that we can say about our campus is that we always have a lot of construction going on.

Recently, Mason has decided to upgrade the streetlights and replace them with brighter ones. At first look, this seems like a good move, however, the installation of these new lights may have some unforeseen consequences.

At first, when I saw the new lights, I rather liked them. I liked the fact that I no longer tripped over random objects walking back from Ike’s at 4 a.m., and I could also see the faces of people who were also walking around at night.

As I was walking one night, I noticed a sound that seemed out of place — the sound of a bird chirping. I checked my watch, which read 2:30 a.m., and thought that it was crazy for birds to be chirping at so early an hour in the morning. After talking to some people, I figured out that the birds could not sleep because of the lights.

The new lights are bright, and for the birds, they are too bright. The poor creatures barely get any sleep, and when they see the lights, they think that it’s morning and they start to chirp. When I first thought about this scenario, I had the image of Mason being completely disrespectful of the environment and terrorizing innocent animals, but then I had a second thought.

Despite the negative effects that the lights have on the birds here at Mason, there are also a number of positive effects as well. First, as I mentioned before, the lights make it so that the paths are well-lit. While not all of the old lights have been replaced with the new brighter ones, in the places where the lights have been replaced, there is no chance of you tripping over stones or walking off a path into the mud — as I have done on many occasions.

Also, the lights help to address safety issues on campus. Before the new lights were installed, it was very easy to sneak up on people. There have been many occasions when I have been able to “ambush” my friends because the previous lighting system simply wasn’t very bright. With the new lights, you are able to see people coming from quite a distance, so there is less of a chance of being taken off guard.

After weighing the positives and negatives, it seems that Mason’s new lighting system is something that benefits the campus as a whole. I know that people who have to walk home alone after a 7:20 to 10 p.m. class are much more at ease with the installation of the new lights. However, I wish that there was a way for the safety improvements to still stand, and for the birds to be able to get some rest.

All in all, nothing will change. Mason has already invested the money and manpower into changing the lights, and to be honest, they’re not that bad. Granted, I feel like everyone can see every move I make now. Yet, I feel that people on campus are now safer with the addition of the lights.

I just wish that there can be some way for us to make progress without harming nature in the process.

Is that too much to ask?

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