Letter to the editor: Good grief, a griffin?

by: Alex Tubridy

Canisius Alumnus

I have recently been made aware or the approval of a griffin statue to be built on campus. It has been stated “The hope is that this statue can be a rallying point for the students.  Be something that we can use to express our pride in Canisius.” At first I thought that this wasn’t such a bad idea, as a giant griffin statue would be pretty badass. However, upon hearing that the funding for the statue is to come from student tax dollars, I quickly realized that things haven’t really changed since I left Canisius in May.

There are two issues I see with this approval. The first comes with the representative status of elected senators, and the second comes with the allocation of tax dollars itself. I don’t want to push too many buttons on what is a touchy subject, but during my four years at Canisius, senate has always had a problem with senators approaching students about issues. During my time at Canisius, I averaged probably one senate meeting a year, and sadly, that was too many. It always seemed that our elected student representatives voted on what they thought was best for students rather than asking what was actually best. I agree with a statement by fellow alumna Emma Carberry, in which “I think USA has a tendency to forget what it means to “represent” their constituents, and instead put the blame on them for not bringing concerns to USA without ever being asked their opinions by the people who represent them.”

From what I have seen and heard so far, this seems to be the issue. Students have not heard anything about this statue until it was too late. I’ve been informed that information regarding the statue has been available for more than two months, however the apparent lack of knowledge of this from the general student body leads me to question where it was made available. Furthermore, there appears to have been no effort to reach out to alumni of the college either. Having graduated last year, my tax dollars are in this pool as well. However, I received no phone call, email, nor postage enlightening me about the possible construction of this monolith. How is a statue supposed to bring together students past, present, and future if we don’t even know it exists?

The second issue: why are we using student tax dollars to fund this? Ever since the proposal for Brock’s fitness center was turned down, it seems that USA has been eager to burn through these funds. Why is there such a need to spend the money? Why not keep it set aside, poll students on what they think needs to change around campus, and put some of it toward those ideas? I understand that it is difficult to get an accurate feel for the student body’s opinion, as a large part of the body usually doesn’t respond to inquiries. This makes it difficult to vote on these issues, however I still feel something could have been done to better sample student input. For example, Vance Stinson recently made a Facebook post about this, and received an outstanding number of responses. I feel that USA could have done something similar, in the form of a forum or something similar. Canisius prides itself on being a Jesuit institution. We stress things like being men and women with and for others, cura personalis, magis, etc. We show this by organizing service trips, retreats, and events like community day. However, over the past four years, I don’t particularly remember Canisius students having the best reputation with our immediate neighbors in the Hamlin park community. Ramifications still carry over from the last “Quad Party,” and I recall an incident of students tipping over some of the giant flower pots that line the sidewalks. With our current reputation, I would think it rather unwise to erect such a pricey monument. The only outcome I can foresee is a further divide between Canisius and it’s neighbors. A statue representing pride in ourselves will do nothing but further tarnish our repute with Hamlin Park residents. Now, if USA has such a desire to spend this money, why not give it back to the local community?

Apparently money from the contingency pool can’t be donated, as it has to be spent on something that will affect students. I don’t see anything that will affect students more than improving the community we live in. I have a hard time believing that an appeal to whatever body regulates this rule would reject a proposal to donate money. If it is rejected, what does that say about Canisius as an entity? That we, all of the sudden flush with more money than we know how to spend, refused to donate because some rule somewhere said we can’t? It has been said that the statue will advent a sense of tradition and legacy on campus and be used to express our pride. I acknowledge that Canisius has been struggling in the spirit department, but a climbable statue is not going to fix that. Rather, I believe that we need to show the community who we are and what we represent by giving back to them. If we give money back to the local community, we are saying that we care about them and we want to make our home better, not just for those of us who are privileged enough to go to Canisius, but those who surround our school as well. Magis: let’s show our neighbors that we care about more than ourselves; we care about them too. Let’s show them that we aren’t just some kids living in the middle of their block, we are living here with them and want to improve the area for everyone. I believe that a student funded statue is ridiculously selfish and won’t accomplish what it sets out to do. If we really want to embody the spirit of Canisius, the answer cannot be forged in bronze, but forged with the community. As a recent alumnus, seeing this statue would not make me feel proud, but rather guilty. I would feel awful knowing that we could have helped out our neighbors, but rather helped ourselves. That is not a Canisius I want to have pride in.

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