This is my last column for The Daily Beacon this summer, and as I step out of one door I begin my nerve wracking and slightly exciting descent into another. On Aug. 21 I will begin my senior year of college.

Honestly, I didn't know if I'd ever have the opportunity to mutter those words and any seniors waiting for the school year to resume most likely share my sentiments.

However, change doesn't always have to possess negative connotations. That's why I'm seeing the bright side of UT's Cone Zone initiative. For those who are unaware, Cone Zone, located at www.conezone.utk.edu, is UT's construction umbrella that keeps students, faculty and visitors in the loop with modifi cation projects and road closures on campus.

I'll admit, much like most of the student body, I was skeptical when I first saw the decimated walkways and building infrastructures last fall. I whined about the unpleasing aesthetics; I moaned about the long walks; I dreaded not being able to enjoy these buildings that made my time at UT so difficult.

But then I caught a glimpse of the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Building that was unveiled on August 7. It was as if the completion of the building signifi ed something much more than a new amenity for music students.

Here's why.

As a trembling freshman, I scurried across campus each day, only to fi nd an eyesore on Volunteer Boulevard. Three years ago, the lot where the beautifully crafted and touted music building now stands was simply a barren
lot of dirty rocks and nothingness. And then came the construction process. Much like a student's four-year career, week-by-week and month by-month, change for the better took place. Experience helped shape their future.

But construction and progress often are not seen or appreciated until results are seen. That's the limbo in which UT currently hovers. Construction offi cials with the university have already been on record stating that this summer has produced the most construction on UT's campus at one time, ever. The new Student Union; additions to the John D.

Tickle Engineering Building; the slowly rising Fred D. Brown Residence Hall at the end of Pedestrian Walkway; road closures on Phillip Fulmer Way, Lake Loudon Boulevard and near the intersection of Andy Holt Avenue and Volunteer Boulevard...

Long story short, that's a lot of construction. But progress takes time. Just as students are not the same when they step onto The Hill as they are when they
step off it, neither is this campus. It's a living, breathing structure that pulses with aspirations for a brighter future.

So, why are we in such a rush?

Poll the entire rising senior class at UT and I'm sure overwhelming amounts are exceedingly upset that their fees will go towards a building that they won't step foot in until they return as an alumni.

But Cone Zone and UT's constructive prowess have hit upon something that needs to be highlighted and embraced.
They're building an alumni base. Normally Neyland Stadium was enough to bring alumni back to campus for a tailgate and reunion weekend, but as the Vols have struggled to rope fans into the stands, the university, more than likely, has struggled to bring their returning alumni back to campus.

And no alumni on campus mean less and less donations. Rejuvenated buildings, although pricey, bring back and restock the alumni base. That, in return, equals more donations and a happier university. UT has its bases covered; they're crafty, smart and savvy.

It's time for its alumni and fan base to wake up and realize that enduring temporary construction makes returning as an alumni that much sweeter.

Gage Arnold is a rising senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at garnold@utk.edu.