College is often described as a bubble outside of reality. Of course, the main focus is studying and doing well in class, but our lives aren’t full of conflict. We spend hours buried in literature during the week, but weekends are spent at parties. We smoke, we drink, we don’t worry. This vapid lifestyle is especially true for the Binghamton University community, where many of us come from a privileged background. I always knew coming to BU that I would meet such students, but nothing has screamed these ideals as much as the recent article published in Pipe Dream titled, “The Nature Preserve stands in the way of parking.”
As a little summary for those who haven’t read this piece, the author is deeply concerned about her parking. She says parking is so scarce that she has to wake up two hours early to get to class. Others have complained before in the newspaper and seemingly, parking is a major issue for the campus. As a suggestion, the author writes that BU should use some of its Nature Preserve to develop a new parking lot.
First, I will address the parking issue. I do have some biases as a freshman with no car, but as a person who has walked all around campus and knows a few people with cars, I have some experience. There is clearly an issue with parking, but it is not so much an issue with the amount of space, as more of an issue with the driver. There is much more parking than the author likes to admit, especially in the areas off-center from the Brain. If the author would like to put in a few more steps, they can easily find parking by the West and East Gyms. If there really is no space, maybe BU can extend some of the parking lots upward, making them multiple levels.
Second, the author and many of those with cars have multiple options if they care to avoid the parking issues. They can take one of the public buses or if they are residents of the U Club apartments, they have the option of OCCT buses and U Club buses. I understand that there is more effort associated with walking to a bus and waiting for it, but these buses are free. They also satisfy all of the author’s concerns: They drop you off in the center of campus and they don’t require you to search for parking. In addition, for the populace that cares about the environment, they have a much lower carbon footprint.
Most importantly, these various options make it so that no one will touch the Nature Preserve. The Nature Preserve is home to a variety of species from deer to rabbits. If some of this land were to be stolen for a lot, thousands of animals would die directly during construction from fumes, vehicles and the clearing of trees while the rest would be strained for resources. Since some of you may not have hearts, consider that aside from the animals, you would be personally affected. The oaks and algae of the Nature Preserve are carbon sinks that maintain the health of our air. Cutting them down and removing the algae would release carbon dioxide built up from thousands of years. Since we already on pace to pass the two-degree Celsius increase in temperature worldwide, it is necessary we do everything possible to reduce the release of carbon dioxide. Again, if you aren’t convinced by our imminent doom, the Nature Preserve is beautiful and amazing. There are old oaks that stand over you like guardians of Mother Nature herself. Their roots tangle and wrap around each other like a young couple with their hands interlocked. If you look up, you see a canopy of leaves, green, but glowing with the gold of the sun. If you are observant enough, you can catch a few animals skipping around jubilantly and you can hear the sounds of the forest. All around, birds chirp and fill the air with their vocals while the insects harmonize.
One more sound can be made out. An out-of-place sound can be traced downward, to your own footsteps. Why among all this cacophony is our echo so distinct? Why can we always tell when a human is nearby? Is it that we are the guests and this is not our home? That we are merely looking around and enjoying it, but we do not own this land? Yes, exactly so. We have the right to be there and the duty to protect it, but keep in mind, the only ones to attack it are other humans.
This article brought me such rage, not because this is plausible, but because some people actually believe this. It actually hurts to know that people are so selfish that they will risk the lives of the creatures and everyone around us for a solution to their small, petty issues. As I finish this and am finally cooling down, I ask the reader one thing: When will we prioritize the environment over everything else? When will we fight to destroy parking lots to plant a forest?
David Goldhirsch is a freshman majoring in engineering.