Finding new use for closed school
THESE are tough times for many small private colleges, but the demise of one such school in Oklahoma may benefit one of its contemporaries, at least in the short term.
This week it was revealed that Hobby Lobby had purchased the campus of St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee and then leased the property to nearby Oklahoma Baptist University for a nominal amount.
St. Gregory’s University, a private Catholic university, closed in 2017 due to bankruptcy. Oklahoma Baptist University, a small Christian liberal arts university with enrollment of just more than 2,000 students, plans to use classrooms and labs in St. Gregory’s Benedictine Hall for science courses and the Sarkeys Performing Arts Center as another venue for presentations by theater, choral and instrumental programs.
Earlier this year, Moody’s Investors Service reported that private college closures have risen to a rate of about 11 per year and predicted that rate would increase to around 15 per year, citing falling tuition revenue and rising expenses as contributing factors. Moody’s estimated about one in five small private colleges is under fundamental stress.
Hobby Lobby promised to come up with a plan for a “meaningful, long-term future use for the property” while it is being leased. It’s true this story would have a happier ending if St. Gregory’s University had found a way to survive, but the fact the situation may benefit the survival of another small private university is a much better outcome than many alternatives.
Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush were Republican Party rivals for many years, with Bush defeating Dole for the party’s presidential nomination in 1988. “By any measure, they were not then friends. Not even close,” wrote Quin Hillyer of The Washington Examiner. Yet as Republican Senate leader, Dole, R-Kan., worked hard to promote Bush’s agenda and the president helped Dole pass the Americans With Disabilities Act. They remained friends after leaving politics. In 2016, Dole said, “This is a case where two political enemies became fast, fast friends, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” On Tuesday, with the help of an aide, the 95-year-old Dole managed to stand and salute Bush’s casket at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both men had served with distinction during World War II. In a week filled with tributes to the former president, perhaps none was more moving than that that one.
USA Today recently reported at least 3,856 partial or total building collapses occurred in Havana, Cuba from 2000 to 2013, and around 28,000 people live in buildings “that could collapse at any moment.” One woman told the newspaper that conditions in her apartment are so bad she must relieve herself in a bucket. “Sometimes I say, ‘God, how long will I live in these conditions?’ This is no life,” she said. When Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in 1959, implementing an era of communist rule, he promised to demolish “hellish tenements” and build safe, modern housing. As part of that effort, the communist government confiscated buildings from the wealthy and redistributed them to the poor. What’s astounding is that some advocates of socialism not only avert their eyes from the results of their preferred policies in Cuba, but even continue to hold up Cuba as a success.
Michelle Obama’s good advice
Former first lady Michelle Obama recently shared some thoughts on marriage that are worth noting, regardless of one’s partisan affiliation. While promoting her new book, Obama said, “People are like, ‘Why is she talking about marriage counseling?’ And I’m like, duh, marriage is hard; it is hard.” She continued, “A marriage is hard work, and I share that because I see too many young people who frivolously enter into marriage … they think the love and the courtship part has something to do with what marriage is, and it doesn’t — it’s a little bitty part of it.” Instead, Obama said marriage is “two independent individuals trying to come together to build a life, forever.” Her candor is refreshing. One hopes many people who might ignore the same advice coming from a “stodgy” social conservative will have ears to hear it coming from the former first lady.
Thanks to this summer’s vote and the aftermath, Oklahomans have heard much about marijuana legalization this year. But Oklahoma is far from the front lines of drug legalization efforts. On the other hand, Oregon is cutting-edge or completely bonkers, depending on your point of view. In that state, organizers are seeking signatures on a ballot initiative that would allow a public vote to legalize psychedelic mushrooms. Backers claim “magic mushrooms” can have positive effects on people undergoing cancer treatments and chemical depression. That makes one wonder if all drug-legalization efforts use the same playbook because similar claims are made about seemingly every illegal drug. Somehow, they all help cancer patients. The mushrooms can also cause anxiety, panic attacks and even psychosis, and can produce flashbacks long after use of the drug. But never mind that — it’s all about helping cancer patients. Why would anyone think otherwise?
Fumbling the ball
The National Football League is renowned for having an intelligence operation that provides teams with reams of background information regarding players who are about to be drafted. Yet that apparatus seems to break down once players are in the league. Four years ago, the league supposedly did a thorough check into an altercation involving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancee. But it was TMZ, with its release of a hotel surveillance video showing Rice dragging the woman out of an elevator by her hair, that resulted in him being released. Rice hasn’t played since. Recently, TMZ did it again, with a video showing Kansas City Chiefs tailback Kareem Hunt hitting and kicking a woman in February — months after the Chiefs and the league said they had investigated the incident. The Chiefs cut Hunt immediately after the video was made public. Said one team executive, “It’s fair to say that people are wondering why” the league hadn’t seen the video. Yes, it is.
There are times when the impulse to avoid offending people seems to transform into a puritanical effort to strip the fun and variety from life. A recent essay by Shareena Z. Hamzah, who received a Ph.D. in English Literature at Swansea University, argues “increased awareness of vegan issues will filter through consciousness to produce new modes of expression. It may very well be that down the line powerful meat metaphors are eschewed.” Put simply, Hamzah thinks expressions like “bringing home the bacon” or “putting all your eggs in one basket” will soon be considered offensive in polite company. She also indicates expressions such as “killing two birds with one stone” and “beating a dead horse” may need substantial revision. This argument brings two thoughts to mind. First, how sad to think language is slowly being stripped of vividness. And second, have these people even tried bacon?
Former Sen. Bob Dole pays his respects to former President George H.W. Bush.