There’s nothing sadder than homeless ducks.

Well, I guess the current state of the world is pretty sad. Economic strife, political unrest at home and abroad, the looming threat of war, flu season, the inexplicably lingering popularity of Creed and homeless humans are all more pressing issues to which our nation should attend. But homeless ducks are really, really sad.

Of course, I am speaking of the ducks that used to call Storke Plaza reflecting pool home. The pool, once a shimmering image of Storke Tower and blue sky, vanished around September and left in its place a large, ugly pit that serves no other purpose other than to expand the Nexus Frisbee practice area.

Fixing the burst water main that drained the pool and refilling the pit with water, however, would only succeed in making an ugly, useless area of the campus ugly, useless and wet. Indeed, the problem with the pool is indicative of a larger issue.

Back when I first considered applying to UCSB, I remember touring the campus, seeing the plaza in all its San Quentin-esque glory, and thinking, “Wow, that really looks like shit.” Then I began work at the Nexus, a decision that required me to have to look at that stark, glaring cement monstrosity every day. “Wow, that still looks like shit,” I think.

Judging by the dearth of people enjoying our fair plaza, I’m not the only one who thinks that either. People usually perch on the steps leading into the plaza, but don’t actually enter it. It’s like they’re scared they’ll become ugly by association. But why would anyone want to hang out in an area consisting solely of eight trees, four benches, three garbage cans, two empty spots where I think trees used to be but aren’t anymore, and a lot of that rocky kind of cement that leaves those rocky kind of indentations in your hands if you sit there too long?

Students and faculty at UCSB aren’t the only ones who should be upset about Storke Plaza. The late Rebecca K. Crown has a genuinely pathetic memorial nook in the plaza’s southwest corner. I can only assume the university never liked Ms. Crown, because what could have been a serene, tree-shaded court is instead old benches, garbage-strewn, weedy plants and a non-functional water fountain. I never knew Ms. Crown, but I can only imagine if her ghost could come see her memorial, she’d think, “Wow, that really looks like shit.”

So how much money would it cost to transform the plaza’s unappealing mix of sterile, gray surfaces and right angles into an inviting square where students could congregate? Probably quite a lot. But imagine our plaza with well-groomed green lawns, plentiful trees, running water and yes, even ducks. I think such an expense would be a righteous cause for the administration to pursue. I hope they’d be happy if students walked by and said, “Wow, that Storke Plaza looks pretty darn sharp.”

Most students learn during their stay at UCSB that the plaza was designed in an age of rampant student activism with the specific intent of minimizing riotous behavior. I don’t think such a precaution necessarily must come at the expense of aesthetic pleasure.

My criticism, however, is not solely an aesthetic one. A quick glance at any map of UCSB reveals that despite the UCen’s misleading name, our campus lacks any true geographical center. Having a renovated, attractive and useful plaza could give students what they didn’t have before.

University administrators should slay the hideous cement beast that lurks outside the UCen. They could do it for the students, for the faculty, for themselves, for Rebecca K. Crown, or hell, even for the ducks. But they should do it.

Drew Mackie is the Daily Nexus county news co-editor. He lacks a true geographical center.