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Go out and change the world, just don’t do it here at Drake

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As an institution of higher learning, it should be assumed that a goal of Drake University would be to foster ambition in its students. However, my recent—and unfortunately final—experiences with Drake University have been contrary to this. Several attempts this year by Drake students to make an impact upon this university have been proposed to administration, where they were quite finally denied.

This semester, several students have been active in planning and proposing the open lot on 26th Street and University Avenue to be converted into a garden. The goal would be to make that space more aesthetically pleasing, while also providing students a nice outdoor place to study and spend time. There is even the potential for inter-college collaboration by having art students design statues or decorate benches to enhance the site, while professors can use spaces for research.

The facilities staff on campus was very receptive to the idea and was beginning to become active in improving the site by planting trees there with Drake University students along with children from the Boys and Girls Club.

Unfortunately, administration refused facilities’ request to plant trees there. And if a couple trees cannot be planted, a garden certainly will not be.

My theory for the rejection is because some day at some point in the future (probably when every student here today will no longer be a student here) that space will become a new visitor parking lot. Because of this designation in the master plan, any proposal to change that space to anything but a parking lot was doomed to fail. Even after compiling all the research possible about why a garden will stimulate learning and why a parking lot will only damage our neighborhood, there is zero possibility for any student to change administration’s plan.

Apparently, it looks worse for Drake University to destroy a garden at some point in the future, than it does for Drake University to actively deny student creativity and ambition. Also, one of Drake’s main public relations tactics is “Blue is Green,” but by adding more parking lots they are encouraging people to drive— consciously not green. And by replacing the soil with an impermeable surface they are extending “Lake Drake” to the surrounding neighborhood.

Even if there was any potential for the garden to be established, it would be virtually impossible for the project to be completed or even initiated the same year it was proposed. For instance, the prairie north of Meredith took a professor four years of effort before he was allowed to plant it. If it takes a professor that long to see his idea become tangible, how is a student ever supposed to accomplish anything?

In another example, a couple students spent almost all of first semester collecting signatures and doing research for better paper on campus. Better meaning Drake would be more conscious about the origin of its paper products, ensuring that it is not contributing to the rapid deforestation of developing nations. After compiling a proposal and preparing a presentation these students explained the need for these new paper standards to Student Senate where a resolution was approved. After this, administration responded by stating that it would not purchase precisely what the students requested because it was not financially viable at the time, even though it would require only $0.62 more per student per year in tuition. Also, if Drake advances its claim to become paperless, then this figure would drop even lower as consumption drops.

Administration also responded by saying that it had already decided, independently of this proposal, to make this better paper purchase. However, many students know this to be incorrect due to different sectors of the university individually selecting which paper to purchase instead of being allowed only this globally conscious option. Overall, after students dedicate several months of their time pursuing these changes, the university denies them, while simultaneously telling those students that their efforts were unnecessary since administration had already made a final decision for themselves.

…But thanks for trying.

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