Our University prides itself on its enterprising spirit and cyclical campus expansion in an effort to make a greater name for itself. This is so characteristic that some joke said that Drexel is the nation’s oldest up-and-coming university.
However, I see little to chuckle at in the newest development plans on campus: By 2016, our campus will be the home of a private hotel, “The Study at University City,” which is remarkably close to academic buildings. This shift is a growing trend on our campus, as academic and residential spaces already sit on top of each other as in the MacAlister-Chestnut Square complex.
However, I am less disturbed by the terrible campus dynamic this new hotel will create and more hurt by what the cost will be. The new hotel is being built on the lot that, for just a few more weeks, is occupied by the James E. Marks Intercultural Center.
With the center’s upcoming destruction, the University lacks a solid plan to relocate offices within the center — at least a plan that has been deeply discussed with the effected students. To counteract this and demand the University hears our concerns about the future of the Intercultural Center, a protest will be held outside the Intercultural Center all day Dec. 10.
As it seems, on the surface, the University positively adores the Intercultural Center and its impact on furthering multicultural diversity in an engaged dynamic modern-urban interfaith campus — or whatever the hollow spiel is.
But there is little to support this recruitment tactic, as the University is making a clear statement about its campus priorities by demolishing the Intercultural Center without any formal plans of building a new one.
The center’s destruction is especially shocking since it is such a new addition to Drexel. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia sold the building — then just the Newman Center — to Drexel in 2010, and James E. Marks made his generous and loving donation in 2011.
Although there is only one brief mention of “moving” the Intercultural Center in President John A. Fry’s Campus Master Plan, this listless commitment does nothing for the students of today.
Many student groups were moved to the basement of the Paul Peck Problem Solving and Research Center (PSRC) without permanent offices, which is a mere transient location, as the PSRC will be completely renovated soon. I feel that this offence against the student body demonstrates blatant disregard for our intercultural community and the self-evident impact of people of so many different ideas and backgrounds all meeting in one place.
I feel that the University should host an open, well-advertised dialogue about the changes happening on campus well before construction begins. I do not mean they should book a conference room for two in the afternoon, I mean a full formal event in Behrakis Grand Hall with representatives from every directly effected student group, faculty and the student body all free to openly voice concerns and criticism.
The students fund more than half of the University’s overall budget and in return we deserve a voice. It is my opinion, along with many others, that it is unjust to begin construction on the new hotel until this conversation results in true, time-lined, concrete plans for a new Intercultural Center.
I am deeply hurt by the University’s attempt to capitalize on this plot of land and throwing culture and religion to the wayside in the process. I call on you to protest with me outside the James E. Marks Intercultural Center all day Dec. 10.
Only in numbers will this message be heard. If you want a voice in the face and very nature of our campus, we need your presence. Bring your books and headphones and just sit on the lawn if you need to study, but if you care, please show your support!
We will not stop until we have a promise from Fry himself that a public meeting will take place before further construction. With a little college student passion, we can make this happen. Why not give a protest the ol’ college try? You can sign the petition and get more information at https://www.change.org/p/drexel-university-president-fry-save-drexel-s-intercultural-center.
Sage Magee is a sophomore architectural engineering student at Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected]