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The Clarion | September 18, 2019
Circumambulating Ross Hall
Environmental Literature applies Experiential Education
By Mary Lewe
Editor in Chief
On Thursday, Sept. 5, Brevard College
English professor John Padgett’s Environmental
Literature course participated in an experiential
learning activity which involved the oldest and
perhaps most mysterious building on Brevard’s
campus; Ross Hall.
Built in the early 1900’s, Ross Hall was
originally a private residence and tourist
destination before eventually being purchased
by the Brevard Institute, at which point it was
converted into a men’s dorm.
Although the building has been condemned
due to the presence of asbestos as well as a
lack of structural integrity, Padgett was able
to acquire special permission for the class to
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John B. Padgett
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“circumambulate” the building.
Circumambulation, as the word suggests,
means to walk around an object in a circle. A
very sacred act, with ties to tradition in many
religions and cultures, many writers in the past
have essayed on the topic of circumambulation
with regard to sacred places such as mountain
tops, temples and statues of deities.
As for the Environmental Literature students,
they too would write their own reflections on
the experience of wandering around the eerie
building during a class period. Guided by
Padgett, the students were also provided with
a list of ten key passes, with opportunities for
immediate reflection aloud as well as quiet
At each stop, including the former site of
Taylor Hall, Kings Creek, Lambo Creek and
of course several approaches of Ross Hall,
Padgett lead the class in thoughtful discussion.
To begin the circumambulation, the class
stopped by the Bell Tower.
“The point of circumambulation is to walk
around sacred objects or places,” Padgett
said at the start of the journey. “For lack of a
better word, that’s sort of what the bell tower
is.” Padgett urged students to contemplate the
significance of “place,” or in literature, setting.
As the class made their way to Kings Creek,
Padgett reminded students of the significance
of the small stream. “It’s amazing to me the
distance this water will travel, all the way to
the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
Teaching assistant and English major Carmen
Boone assisted in preparing materials for the
circumambulation, and will eventually teach
a few class periods based on her own lesson
plans. “I took it [Environmental Literature]
my sophomore year and it was one of the
most interesting English classes I’ve taken,”
Other topics for discussion along the
route involved the history of the landscape
surrounding Ross Hall, including a huge
growth of kudzu, not at all uncommon to this
region of the United States.
“Kudzu was originally introduced in the
South to control erosion,” Padgett said. “It
In fact, kudzu was very effective, but
unfortunately thrived a bit too well and became
an invasive species, choking out native flora
in many areas.
For years Ross Hall served as the Wilderness
Leadership and Experiential Education
building, with classrooms and areas for
activities relevant to the study. Although a
date has not been set, there are plans for the
asbestos to be removed and for the building to
be destroyed in a controlled burn, according to
“I think it’s a shame such a big piece of the
campus’s history will be lost,” one student said
at the end of the circumambulation. Although
the building may never be restored, its history
was appreciated thoroughly for perhaps a final
time by Padgett’s class.
Padgett and members of his class share their
thoughts during a discussion outside of Ross Hall
at the end of their journey.
BC security report
The most recent security reports for
Brevard College have been released as of
Monday, Sept. 16, 12:34 p.m., according to
Brevard College Campus Security.
Students are reminded that smoking and
vaping are only allowed in designated areas.
Please be advised of the recent information
that vaping can cause serious lung damage
as well as life long debilitation and death.
There was recently a fight in Myers Dining
Hall. Administration is aware of the situation
and is conducting a thorough investigation.
Afire extinguisher was recently discharged
in a residence hall and required a response
from the Brevard Fire Department.
Please be advised that this practice is
illegal and anyone identified of activating
the extinguisher will be subject to severe
administrative action and possible arrest by
These devices are placed for the protection
of all and improper use of them cannot be
Everyone is requested to contact Campus
Security at (828)-577-9590 if wrongful or
suspicious activity is observed on campus.
— Zach Dickerson