Drexel University and Tower Health have been collaboratively working toward creating a new College of Medicine facility in Wyomissing, Berks County. The last beam was put in place May 18, and that was a major achievement in the process.
It’s a bit of a running joke among many Drexel students that the University doesn’t put enough of our tuition money toward improving things that we ask for. Despite the jokes, it did originate with a much more serious sentiment around it. It isn’t a stretch to think that something like the new College of Medicine could be seen by some students as a “waste” of their tuition money, as it isn’t something that will directly affect their college experience in a positive way.
This isn’t necessarily a selfish mindset, but it is narrow-minded all the same. This new College of Medicine isn’t going to directly benefit a student like myself in any significant way, but it will have an impact on medical students, as is stated on Tower Health’s website: “[We] are collaborating to build an additional site location for Drexel’s College of Medicine in Wyomissing, less than one mile from Tower Health’s Reading Hospital. When fully operational, Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health will have the capacity to train and educate up to 300 medical students.”
It is making a difference for some people, but when taken out of context, I can see how some would think differently. If I told a Drexel student that the university was making a new College of Medicine in Wyomissing, they would likely be confused as to why Drexel is building something in Wyomissing and not on the main campus in Philadelphia. Depending on their major, they would also probably question why Drexel was putting more money toward one of their better colleges instead of one of the smaller ones in need of more improvement.
These are valid questions, and it doesn’t help that it can be difficult to find out information about developments such as this new College of Medicine location. This is related to the whole “out of sight, out of mind” problem that has hindered several of Drexel’s projects when it comes to how the part of the student body perceives them.
The new College of Medicine site is no small matter, but because of its location, most students will not even know of its existence until well after it has been finished. It’s reasonable to think that only medical students will keep track of its development, which is a shame because this is a project that is satisfying Drexel student’s constant requests for the University to do things for its students.
As happy as I am to hear about the progress of this new resource for medical students, I would like to see Drexel promote it more. Some previous projects like this one have aided in the feeling of resentment that many students have towards Drexel. When I think of projects that have been used as fuel for the infamous “Drexel Shaft,” the two chief offenders are the Drexel Square Schuylkill Yards between Drexel One Plaza and 30th Street Station and the revamping of the armory.
The armory rework wasn’t necessarily bad as it was converted to the Arlen Specter U.S. Squash Center, but the change didn’t do all that much for the majority of students. It still gets used very frequently, but there were no significant quality of life improvements made to the campus.
The Schuylkill Yards is something that I have never heard any students speak positively of, and I think that is a result of them simply having no knowledge of what it is. The Schuylkill Yards page on Drexel’s website has a description that sounds quite interesting.
“Schuylkill Yards will rise on 14 acres between Drexel’s University City Campus and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, the nation’s third-busiest rail transit hub. The project will include approximately five million square feet of entrepreneurial spaces, teaching and research facilities, corporate offices, residential and retail development, and hospitality and cultural venues. A public realm plan includes new public spaces and green connections to the rest of University City, anchored by the 1.3-acre Drexel Square,” says the page.
The problem, of course, is that I stumbled upon this information one time when I was just perusing the Drexel website. I don’t recall it ever being communicated to the student body in any significant way, which is the main reason why most students don’t know what the purpose of its existence is, other than to be a nice little pocket of artificial greenery in an urban space. Though even that is only a small upside, for we already have spaces like Lancaster Walk and Drexel Park, which are both superior and more populated.
The new College of Medicine won’t encounter the same issues that the Schuylkill Yards and armory did because its purpose is more obvious, but its extreme distance from the main campus could negatively impact the way some students view it. To avoid this potential pitfall, there needs to be a greater level of effort to get it in the face of the students early on. Its purpose needs to be clearly communicated, otherwise it may very well end up as just another project that had good intentions but is ultimately deemed an insignificant addition in the eyes of the majority of students.