Every university deserves criticism. There is no perfect institution, no utopia of academia, that we can use as a model to compare the rest. Every university has its flaws, and every student can name more than a few from their own.
However, I feel that we as Drexel students tend to fixate on the wrong criticisms. The “Drexel Shaft” is a comedic term used often to refer to having unfavorable deals with the school’s management and every undergrad has heard someone say it at least once, yet the actual issue itself is almost never stated directly. Influential social media accounts (like Drexel After Dark, which has over six thousand followers alone) create content almost entirely focused on making fun of Drexel’s issues, but they aren’t there to make issues known, just to entertain. This isn’t to say that accounts like these are bad; in fact, this account’s massive popularity among students makes each post a statement on widespread student opinion. If the posts weren’t relatable, they wouldn’t be popular, and having widely relatable content focused on entirely negative aspects of the university speaks for itself. My point instead is that, in order for students to enact actual change in the experience we are paying thousands of dollars for, we need to focus on what Drexel is truly doing completely wrong.
Everyone knows how American Campus Communities has noticeably high rent prices for four-person apartments, but ACC is a business that’s looking to make money — we really shouldn’t be surprised about their actions. Students are justifiably unhappy about this, but everyone I talk to is always mad at ACC instead of Drexel. Why do we not focus on Drexel’s ridiculous policy requiring second-year students to live on campus without providing actual campus housing, railroading sophomores into dealing with extortionist pricing? Can Drexel really not offer any other solution to help their students? Or do they know how difficult it is to transfer out of a quarter system and so are content to hedge their bets about how many students they can keep?
On the other side of the coin: it’s A round right now for the 2021 spring/summer co-op cycle. For mechanical engineering students, the number of remote positions available is 14 — and most of these positions have nothing to do with mechanical engineering. I was stunned to see this at first, but in the middle of an international pandemic, it seems that this is all we can expect.
In an interview with Philadelphia Business Journal, Drexel claimed to have placed 83 percent of all co-op students for the spring-summer terms in job positions, compared to the usual 97 percent, and estimated the number of participating students each year at around 6,000. These numbers aren’t a good thing, given the 500 or so students that would not have gotten a position last term. However, Drexel removed penalties towards backing out of positions out of fear for personal safety and health and provided an option to switch into classes full-time instead, I honestly believe that the University did a pretty good job with this issue. Yeah, things could be better, but these are the actions (for once) of a school that wants students to be happy and safe.
The point of this article isn’t to argue a case for or against Drexel. I did not write this to stir up tensions or deny a problem exists; all I’m saying is that we as students have to make arguments on our own behalf — and we have to make sure those arguments are founded on valid criticism. Though the Triangle and other platforms can provide a voice for complaints, the student body should also focus on calling for real change. Organizations like the Drexel Community for Justice, which are entirely student-run, state their grievances clearly and contact the administration openly. Such organizations are fantastic examples of the kind of action our school needs.
We can all agree that Drexel has problems. If any of us want to actually start fixing them, we have to agree on what they are.