Find­ing new use for closed school

The Oklahoman - - OPINION -

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.

Mov­ing ges­ture

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.

Cuban ‘suc­cess’

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.

Magic mush­rooms

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.

Meat metaphors

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.

Michelle Obama

Ka­reem Hunt

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