In protest of the prodigal statue

In protest of the prodigal statue

“At Mercer, everyone majors in changing the world. Be the bear.”

This quote was taken from the front page of Mercer web page, and it prompted me to write about my opinion and set forth my opinion about something. Before doing so, I would like to briefly recount something that happened to me yesterday which I hope will work as an illustration as to why I challenge whether this is truly the opinion of all individuals who are part of Mercer’s faculty. As many of you know, a costly statue was recently erected outside of the University Center.

Yesterday, as I was walking up to the UC, I saw a fellow student of mine and made a comment along the lines of, “Yeah, because we don’t know how to embody the bear without tens of thousands of dollars spent on a nine-and-a-half foot tall statue of one.” It just so happened that I was overheard by a Mercer faculty member who pointed out to me that it was not my tuition that was be- ing spent and I therefore had no right to complain. I, of course (and for any of you who know me this will not surprise you), argued back.

I said that I think that such superfluous spending on a statue is not what we need; what we need are improvements that will help the students. He, of course, retorted and the argu- ment went on. The point of what I think, however, is not that “school spirit” is not to be valued, but that we should be spending money where we truly need it.

Even though I consider myself a philosopher of many schools, I am a pragmatist at heart. Do something practical and worthwhile: save and better the quality of the lives of those around us. That is how I believe we should change the world. However, as it appears, there are some who disagree; there are some who would accept money that is drastically needed in other areas of our school in these hard economic times (especially with many of our departments in the financial state that they are in) to build a $75,000 bear statue that serves no practical good.

My answer is, Sure, it was not my tuition, but it was still money for my school—our school—and it frustrates me that such a wonderful place of learning would accept money for something as unnecessary and useless as a bear statue of such great cost. I wonder if such reasoning—that spending great amounts of money on something that does not serve the purpose of helping others, whether here at Mercer or around the world— is truly the way in which we can make a difference.

I am not saying that there are not many wonderful programs at Mercer that do help to change the world. I am simply raising the question of whether such a mindset of some within our school does not further translate into the mindsets of students who will one day go out and engage the world. Are those who had any hand erecting that statue implying, as it seems to me, that excessive spending on impractical things is not only to be valued, but to be done at the expense of worthwhile endeavors?

Is this truly the mindset that we students should have as we attempt to go out and “change the world?” All I can say is that this is not the value that I hold, and I hope for the world’s sake that my fellow students agree.

Comments on this opinion can be sent to [email protected]