My alma mater is committing a double fault, proposing an expansion of housing that not only threatens trees (you know how I feel about trees) but buys into the false idea that expanding Greek fraternities is good for the university:
Greek life is growing at South Dakota State University, and officials are eyeing a pristine swath of trees for more fraternity houses.
But this is no ordinary forest. The arbors in this corner of campus are a carefully assembled collection of tree species, paid for by donors and planted for academic purposes.
“It’s no different than a museum, and it should have the same kind of protection,” said Norm Evers, a retired horticulture instructor for SDSU.
Evers, 77, designed the 45-acre arboretum decades ago [Patrick Anderson, “Arboretum Could Become SDSUS Frats,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.04.27].
SDSU, you’re going to tear up something designed by the venerable Norm Evers just to promulgate the idea that a successful university experience hinges on buying your friends with membership dues and submission to initiation and groupthink? Dear alma mater, have you lost your sense of science, history, and respect?
Associate VP of student affairs Doug Wermedal says the university can build around the trees or even spend some money to move them. But is it worth the effort? SDSU Alpha Gamma Rho house boss Dan Larson tells that Sioux Falls paper (Anderson’s words) “He thinks a stronger Greek presence would help the university impress high school graduates, looking for the right fit.” But why not let the kids who are impressed by Greek life and conformity go to USD and focus on drawing scholars impressed by more substantive university programs?