Letter: Why I have come to love the University of Oregon
I have come to the University of Oregon so that I could love it.
From the balcony of my Onyx Street manse, the University has been my focal point. The Frisbees on the bright green turf fields whizz by like rockets or tossed-off diploma caps. I came four years ago because my heart skipped a beat when I saw the school seal — a glacier zigzagging like an army from Mt. Hood with the motto “mind moves the mass.”
Now that my time here is almost over, that warm, fuzzy feeling of a moss-fueled campfire over snow still lingers from the falls, springs and hard knocks. I would be remiss to not share with you, my freshmen, my sophomores, my juniors, my soon-to-be grads, what I have learned.
I have learned that the thousand stainless stars bejeweling Willamette Hall’s ceiling represent the astrophysicists’ Crab Nebula,@@http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/[email protected]@ that Greek and Anasazi myths informed the wavering steel banners of biophysicists’ double-helix. I have mouthed@@really? you mouthed [email protected]@ passages from the Bible, Plato and Lao Tzu on the Orient-styled exterior of the Jordan Schnitzer, just for kicks.
There are keen, careful lyrics hewn into every throat and limb, into every viol’s coda and brick,@@there really is no max level to your pretentiousness, is [email protected]@ the only stones left unturned are those which the observer has forgotten to flip. I have learned that no man is born evil, just ignorant.
For example, there are eight English Oaks planted in front of the Knight Library. They were planted in honor of Robert Chase Bailey,@@[email protected]@ the ‘39 senior class president who drowned in the Millrace. It used to be sparkling, Arrowhead fresh with no grit. There were love-boat skiffs, canoe races and spring festivals on the Millrace. Believe it.
Let me list my loves.
I love how there are actually more bike lanes than car lanes on Alder Street.
I love how the ridiculously priced hundreds-of-dollars parking permits make it even more ridiculous than it already is to actually bring a car onto campus, rather than walking, biking, boarding, unicycling or riding the bus.
I love how the Schnitzer is housing an exhibition of artwork from student athletes, and most are not just pretty darn good, they’re great.
I love how, last Friday, we had badass, mutha-lovin’ Kenyans, distance beasts, running their Olympic Trials on American soil, in the University’s own Hayward Field.
I love how in our three-thousand-plus arboretum we have not one, but multiple Ginkgos and Dawn Redwoods — story time — ancient trees given up as extinct, but found by a man named Zhan Wang@@[email protected]@ in a remote little river valley by a bandit-riddled shrine in China, shipped (by seed) to Harvard Arboretum, and then gifted to us.
When you haven’t been paying attention to the incredible things the University already has to offer, ask yourself: Do you really deserve an EMU that, for all intents and purposes, hasn’t been considered state-of-the-art since the invention of the Hula Hoop?
I love how one day a student is brave enough to yell “Enough!” with a scowl, and the next another student (yours truly) yells “Enough!” with a smile on his face.
The firing of Lariviere was an outrage. But how can we expect to truly win if we have no respect for the Oregon that our president knew and cared for and sought to improve? I love (comically and quite wrongly) how the University’s Sustainability Center occupies a tiny, very, very sustainable hovel within the gargantuan EMU. (Seriously. Something should be done about that.)@@so we don’t deserve a more state-of-the-art EMU, but something should be done to make the sustainability center bigger within it? [email protected]@
I love how the University prepares you with real-life experience. I love how my environmental journalism class Skyped with the winner of the National Outdoor Book Award@@http://www.noba-web.org/@@ and got me an agent’s “in” to go write about bananas and Sri Lankan elephants on an island. I love how landscape architects quest to Kyoto to design parks and gardens. I love how students teamed with Springfield, Salem, and Gresham in the Sustainable Cities Initiative @@http://sci.uoregon.edu/@@to craft real world solutions to real world problems. I love how the University’s College of Education is ranked third (like rankings ever mattered) in the nation. I love how Lundquist entrepreneurs can take the New Venture Planning course to rev up a business.
I love how I can be inspired to write an article entitled, “Of Treeheads, Meatheads, and Mallards” (no offense), and each piece fits. I love how bright yellow streaks on asphalt shine like dewdrops on locally-raised lemons after a freak June thunder or how the sky opens again with rainbows, and umbrellas are replaced with summer dresses in just a few days.
What stops progress is shame.
Trees fall this way. Civilizations crumble. Apathy pulls down the blue shades, rage makes them flame.
I, for one, will look back with no regrets. If I shed a single tear, I will clasp it dearly. It will be joyful.
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