The prime rumor around campus is that Drexel University will cut evening hours and eliminate major stops from the Blue & Gold bus route, which runs west from campus through Powelton Village. Potentially, only the stop on the main campus and at the Vidas Athletic Complex could survive. If social media reports are to be believed, bus drivers have already been told their hours or even jobs are at risk — though the University has not made a formal statement to the student body.
It certainly isn’t hard to believe that the University would do such a thing, however. Drexel rakes in tuition money but spends it just as greedily, so it would be no surprise if there were budget problems (You may have noticed that our new Perelman Plaza originally had turf grass in several areas that was pulled up just a few weeks later and replaced with other plants), but I believe something more sinister is at stake here.
Commuters that live near campus, driven there by cheaper room and board than at Drexel (the fourth most expensive in the country, according to Business Insider), depend on the Blue & Gold route. It takes students to and from their housing, The Fresh Grocer and classes — I doubt Vidas is on most people’s itinerary. That the route is the first to fall to budget cuts shows Drexel administrators’ commitment to keeping people on campus. With it being harder to buy groceries, they might even buy a meal plan. Sodexo, which runs all the establishments where dining dollars can be spent, would love to get its hands on about $22 per student per day (That’s right, the cost of a typical meal plan could let you eat at a pretty good restaurant every day.)
It must not be forgotten that it is President John A. Fry’s personal mission to make it harder for students to live off-campus. As The Triangle reported Feb. 6, the president put his name on an agreement with the Powelton Village Civic Association, committing Drexel to more off-campus housing restrictions, such as a potential extension of the Two-Year Residency Program. Has this backdoor deal claimed its latest victims?
You might call this is a conspiracy theory, and perhaps it is overly suspicious, but when our administration makes secret deals, or decides to get rid of important amenities without even discussing it with the student body, it’s hard to assume that it is always acting in good faith. It doesn’t take much asking around to know that the Drexel administration does not have the students’ trust — the concept of the “Drexel Shaft” has certainly outlived the structure.
The University could do well in my eyes by being significantly more transparent about its actions and consulting the student body about any major proposals. Of course, that means discussion in a public meeting, and not just with the privileged few who sit on deans’ advisory boards or head student organizations. I look forward to an open debate about the Blue & Gold route.