students lay on a blanket on the middle of a grassy quad at night

The Center of Campus: Hillsdale’s Quad

Written by Jenny Wiland

A cluster of students spread their books across a carpet of grass, notebook pages crinkling in the breeze as they study together. Others sit down a few feet away, laughing and talking over sandwiches, as someone else lays down to nap under the sun. Another student sprints across the green, snatching a frisbee from the air as his teammates laugh and cheer. Later that evening, some students practice aerial lifts as they swing dance, while others huddle in a circle as they pray together. All these students gather for different reasons, but they all end up in the same place: the quad.

It can be easy to take the quad for granted, especially for those who weren’t around when it was shut down for the construction of Christ Chapel. But this grassy area is a central place for Hillsdale’s community—both literally and metaphorically. It’s served as everything from a study spot to an ultimate frisbee field to even, once, a battlefield for the men’s dorms to wage war with weapons made of foam.

Sebastian Pestritto, ’22, sees the quad as the best common area on campus. “It’s a really good place for coming together. You’ve got A.J.’s, you’ve got the library, but if it’s nice out, you don’t want to be sitting inside. Michigan has some beautiful weather, so you want to take advantage of that.” Sebastian also runs the Ultimate Frisbee club, so he enjoys having the quad as a practice field.

In 2019, the quad was shut down for the construction of the nearby chapel, and all of campus felt the lack. Gabe Kottkamp, ’23, was a freshman at the time, so he’d never had a quad, but for him, “The quad obviously needed to be there. There was something missing without it there.” 

The loss hit the Ultimate Frisbee club particularly hard. “It’s much harder for people to walk down to the IM fields for pickup,” says Sebastian. “So people weren’t playing frisbee as much.” Student Activities Board events looked different, too. Although they still hosted a “Concert on the Quad,” where student musicians performed for their peers, it was strange to not have the event on the actual quad.

Now that Christ Chapel is built, the quad is back, and it’s more beautiful than ever. Thanks to the class of 2019, a beautiful fountain sits in the middle of the marble floor between the chapel and the quad, and the class of 2020 gifted trees that now gird the edges of the grassy space. 

“It’s like a little piece of the arboretum,” says Gabe. “It’s surrounded by buildings, but it’s still the most beautiful common area that we have on campus to gather and interact together. It’s a beautiful place to be together with friends or strangers, or just to be.” 

Sebastian agrees. “I think it is the best of the common areas on campus. Having that space is really beneficial for the community.”

Central Hall may be the administrative center of campus, but the quad serves as the center of Hillsdale’s community. “It’s a tad small,” Gabe admits, “but we’re thankful that it’s there. And we’d miss it if it weren’t.”

Headshot of student Jenny WilandJenny Wiland, ’23, plans to study psychology and graphic design. She loves her cat, dark chocolate, and writing stories, especially science fiction and fantasy.

Published in January 2021