Live bear, dead campus

Mar 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Columns, Opinions, Top Story

by Jason McGill

“Live bears” across Missouri breathed a sigh of relief this week.

Student Body President Chris Polley announced the University has squashed the Student Government Association’s plans to bring a “live bear” to football games. No reason was given outside the administration’s discomfort with the idea.

I’m glad this “live bear” idea didn’t materialize because I don’t think keeping a bear captive for our amusement is something an institution of higher education should do.

But the effort to capture, collar, and cage a “live bear,” though misguided, was aimed at addressing a legitimate issue. That issue is the lack of school spirit among the students. Granted, every third freshman is wearing maroon, but what does that mean? How does that manifest in a sense of community as students?

The activities email I get every week has events the University is putting on and some by student groups. Where is, for lack of a more precise term, the voice of the students? I don’t mean things done for students, but actions taken by students, as students and not as some group.

For example, there were a few articles about the controversy last year with SGA and the money for Eagles tickets, but widespread protest? Calls for accountability? None.

Earlier this month, many campuses demonstrated in solidarity against a wave of cuts in education funding and tuition hikes. It’s not just California and their 32 percent increase.

Michigan, South Carolina, and Colorado students are looking at increases. Our freeze isn’t going to hold forever. There were over one hundred protests nationwide. Nary a word here.

Now we have this new fitness center being built while everyone holds their breath, waiting for budget cuts. Does this make sense? Even if the fitness center money was “set aside” by a student vote, doesn’t that call for a review and change of the system for allocating these funds? We shouldn’t be locked into spending millions of dollars by students who aren’t here anymore and barely gave a second thought to a building being constructed five years down the road.

RHA is considering converting Brick City into loft style “on campus” housing. Meanwhile, we’re plowing under actual “on campus” land to build special swimming pools in our new fitness center.

We have to slash our budget and risk tuition hikes somewhere down the line so we can fund this fluff. Is housing located further away from campus really what we need? How will that help build school spirit?

Students shrug it off for the most part. They are passionate in their own little spheres, but as a student body, they are uninterested in the course set for the University by the administration.

What would a “live bear” do? Bears live their lives almost entirely alone and spend a good chunk of that time sleeping. It’s somehow fitting that we would think to bring a solitary, territorial predator to try to draw people together.

Low attendance at some sporting events isn’t due to lack of spectacle. It is a symptom of a deeper lack of community among the students.

Until the root problem is addressed, all the “live bears” or maroon t-shirts in the world won’t make a difference.

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