Gladiator arena
A new gladiator arena is set to be constructed where the Administration Building previously stood. Events will include nonviolent combat, naval re-enactments and chariot races.
Photo illustration by Chloe Leckrone

‘Squirrel Theater’ Gladiator Arena to be Constructed on Campus

Heather Gierke

Manchester University approves construction on a new amphitheater said to rival the “magnificence” of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

The Board of Trustees and administration have voted to move forward with the new “Spartan Initiative,” which aims to bring back traditions long since lost to time. Traditional events such as nonviolent gladiatorial combat (in a nod to the Peace Studies department), naval re-enactments as part of classes, and chariot races will draw both students and people across the globe to the North Manchester campus and into the new amphitheater, aptly named “Sciurus Theatrum” or “Squirrel Theater.” The construction will begin February 29, 2023, and is expected to take until February 31, taking roughly a day.

With this new Spartan Initiative, Manchester University hopes to help its students grow into people who are ready for the real world. “We are, of course, a nonviolent university. This is not about encouraging violence,“ Manchester said in a press release. “Our Spartan Initiative will help grow school spirit, increase our sense of community, and strengthen our student body for the real fight: Life. We will prepare our students for the real struggles of life, such as being face to face with a lion. Today, our children have forgotten how to properly drive a chariot, much less drive a competitive chariot with finely groomed horses. Our Spartan Initiative is here to support students past a traditional college education.”

Students from all years think it’s a great decision. “I cannot wait to learn hand to hand combat in the context of nonviolence,” senior Dillon King said. ”I think there is a lot we can learn from violence in a nonviolent way. We could all do great harm but we choose not to. It’s a great sociological study.”

When polled, Manchester alumni voted in great support of a giant feature such as a full sized amphitheater. Other landmarks were considered, such as a large copper statue, a slightly askew pillar, and a geometric shape made of sand, but the Roman amphitheaters capture the “heart” of the university the best in several polls conducted in previous years.

Manchester University athletes don’t have to worry about any changes to athletic locations. The football field, baseball and softball fields and the PERC will stay the same and retain the same level of use and won’t be merging with the Theatrum. The Theatrum will be used mainly for the Spartan Initiative projects and can also be reserved by professors and students by application.

This new addition to Manchester University facilities will come at no cost to any student. The Theatrum is Rome’s gift to us as thanks for our partnership in their “Midwest Initiative,” where they attempt to perfect farming corn along the western coast of Italy.