After noticing that some of Kansas University’s war memorials were starting to look “shabby,” as one student put it, a student veterans group decided to take action.
“They’ve been terrific,” said Jeff Weinberg, assistant to the chancellor. “Even their approach has been extraordinary.”
He said the veterans came to him with a specific, detailed list of needs, from simple things like washing the exteriors of the Campanile and Vietnam War and Korean War memorials, to more detailed work, like repainting some of the letters of the names of soldiers.
They offered to raise funds and do some of the labor themselves if needed, Weinberg said.
Jake Robinson, a senior from Oberlin who is vice president of the KU Collegiate Veterans Association and an Army veteran, said his group was pleased with the response they got from the university.
“Hopefully we’ll get to do some painting, stuff like that,” Robinson said. “Whatever they’ll let us do.”
Weinberg said the university would do some of the work itself and contract out some of the more detailed needs.
Weinberg said he didn’t know yet how much the cleaning would cost, as KU is still determining what work it can do in-house and what work should be contracted out.
“This is so personal to the university, this Memorial Drive,” he said. “We needed to find a way to do this ourselves.”
The Campanile is fenced off for washing — it will reopen for commencement May 22 but will then be closed again throughout June. Work is scheduled on other memorials on campus, as well.
After the cleaning projects are complete, they’ll move on to another project to address some interior cracking in the Campanile.
The structure doesn’t pose a danger to anyone, Weinberg said, but needs some work.
“It isn’t serious, like we’re going to have to close the Campanile,” Weinberg said. “But it is something we’re going to need to deal with.”
Weinberg said the university has done a cost study, and early guesses placed the cost of the interior work that needs to be done at $50,000.
KU hasn’t begun to look for those funds yet, though, Weinberg said, adding he didn’t know whether KU would seek to take funds from the university budget or seek private donations for the money.
“Let’s put the cracking aside” for now, Weinberg said, and deal with the exterior issues of the memorials first.