Note from Jeff Geerling: The following video and post was created by my brother, Joel, while he was a student at Saint Louis University (which is where I received my bachelor's degree in Philosophy!). I'm reposting his content on my blog since SLU no longer hosts student content on their website. See also: SLU for U 2 (The Sequel), The Making of SLU for U.
Watch on YouTube | Download the original SWF animation
Explanation Behind the Animation
In The Beginning
As I'm sure many of you know, SLU's physical campus has changed quite dramatically over the past ten or so years. Many new buildings have emerged, many old ones have been greatly refurbished. The groundskeeping changed from ho-hum to absolutely beautiful, with well-trimmed, even green grass and shrubberies, flowers, fountains, walkways, arches, and statues adorning nearly every nook and cranny. SLU has added large plots of land to its campus map, most notably the land on the East end of campus, where, I can still remember, the dilapidated and neglected remains of failed city Projects buildings once stood.
From what I can gather, our President, Father Biondi, has been a (or maybe "the"?) prime motivating force behind all this rapid and amazing beautification. Hence, the depiction of a priest zapping the bleak countryside to change the grass to green, the sky to blue, the clocktower and an arch emerging from the ground.
Thanks to Fr. Biondi, SLU has added a number of statues to its landscape, many beautiful and some, well, interesting. For a better understanding of this scene, check out our friendly hermaphrodite, who has a hole in his/her stomach, on the West side of campus, closer to Vandeventer.
The Blue "Saint Louis University" Sign
Ever since the erection of this big blue night light in the sky in 1997, Saint Louis drivers-by have identified SLU from afar by the green towers and bright blue "Saint Louis University" sign atop Griesedieck Hall. Personally, I think this was a brilliant improvement. Having resided in the Saint Louis area for many years, I remember the big ugly Gries tower with its plain, boring top. I also remember the difficulty the layman once had in identifying the Saint Louis University campus from outside its boundaries (Washington University has had its own exit-ramp sign on Highway 40 for years, but for SLU - nothing!). The lovely topping Gries received in '97 clearly distinguished the center of the Saint Louis University campus for all to see, from miles around.
Golf Cart Racing
Certain priests, Public Safety (DPS) officers, and maintenance workers, among others, use various modified golf carts to travel more efficiently throughout the Saint Louis University campus. Generally, this is a common and uninteresting phenomenon. Unfortunately, golf cart travel becomes difficult for both drivers and student-pedestrians at various high-traffic times (esp. between classes!). Occasionally, near accidents between unaware pedestrians and enthusiastic golf-cart pilots have left both parties frustrated on the various SLU paths.
The Fat, Belching Parking Man with a Crown
Everyone who has had to park in Saint Louis University for the past two or three years is familiar with the radical changes in the parking system that occurred between the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 school years. Much shrift has been made (by students, faculty, and other parkers) of the problems that emerged, directly or indirectly, intended or not, from these changes. I'll provide the details, for those of you who are not familiar with the whole situation, or who didn't follow the details (though it was hard not to, when your parking plan ended up costing you at least 60% more in 99-00 than it did in 98-99).
Here's my editorial on parking... (BTW - everything I'm writing here comes from what was said by Fr. Biondi and then-Executive Vice President Dr. Kimmey, what was quoted in the U-News from various SLU administrators, various Parking & Card services publications, and my own personal experience)
Upon the completion of the various expensive new parking garages (first the Laclede garage, then the Medical campus and Olive St. garages), the SLU administrators in charge of the annual budget formulations decided, in early 1999, to begin incorporating the new multimillion-dollar garage costs into the costs of individual SLU parking permits. According to Dr. Kimmey, the garage costs had previously been subsidized by SLU Hospital profits, and this budgeting mistake was only realized upon the 1998 sale of SLU Hospital to Tenet. Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon decided that, since SLU Hospital was built using donations in the 1930s, the money raised by the (rather controversial) sale of the Hospital could only be used to fund SLU's medical programs.* Hence, the Hospital sale money could not be used subsidize the garages like the Hospital profits had previously. If I remember correctly, this was all presented to the student body by Dr. Kimmey (at a Student Government Association meeting) in a "you-guys-are-lucky-we-didn't-catch-this-sooner" and "you-actually-came-out-ahead" manner.
Anyway, in the previous plan, all regular full-time students (and teachers and other employees, I presume) paid $200 per year (or $100 per semester) for a parking pass which allowed them to park on nearly every surface parking lot and in all parking garages on campus (my pass even worked in the new medical campus garage!). For the 1999-2000 school year, the parking plan was completely revamped. This new plan (still in effect today) scaled the various parking options, reserving certain lots and even reserved spaces for higher-priced permits (you ought to check out the mess of a plan they have now, at the SLU Parking & Card Services website). The minimum parking permit price for a full-time resident student like myself is now $330 per year ($165 per semester, a 65% increase!). For permission to park in the Laclede garage (a privilege I obtained for $200 per year during my first two years at SLU), a student now must fork over $440 each year, a one-year increase of 120%!! As if this price hike were not bad enough, those folks who pay the $440/year don't even get to park on any of the surface lots anymore! "Premium" and "Reserved" parking permits for reserved parking spaces cost $750 and $900 per year and entail the same restriction - no parking anywhere else.
OK, you might counter, so having to spend more money isn't so great, but you have new parking garages and lots - everything is hunky-dory, right? Unfortunately, although this is the claim of SLU administrators like Chris Regan and Parking & Card Services manager Ann Benson, this is far from the truth. Few problems were solved by the new parking arrangements, but a plethora of new problems were introduced. I will use my own case as an example.
I moved into the SLU apartment building (Marchetti West) in which I currently reside largely because of the convenience parking in a lot adjacent to my building after my frequent computer-repair trips (I pay my tuition, room, and board with the money I make through my computer service business). When the new parking plans took effect, many students were forced (by the 110%-inflated expense) to purchase a parking permit that no longer allowed them to park in the nearby Laclede garage. The nearest lot, available under the cheaper $330/year plan and the less expensive part-time student and commuter parking plans, is the "Saint Peters" Marchetti parking lot. Now, my lot and is nearly always full to capacity (and then some) when I return from work during the schoolday or after 7 or 8 in the evening. I am forced to either feed a meter on a city street (in the now-rare event that a space is available on a nearby street) or park between 1/4 mile (a lot behind the nearby Shell gasoline station) and 3/4 mile (the Olive garage) away from my apartment. I am not particularly afraid of the 1/4-3/4 mi. walk through and across city streets when I return from work, often after midnight, but I would imagine there are some students who are more concerned than me. I don't like having to carry upwards of fifty pounds of equipment back with me, in the city, at night. But, as an audacious healthy male, I'm not too worried about being violated or robbed. Other, less audacious, or more frail students might have their own opinions about the late-night trek to an apartment for which they've paid a premium, because it has a (now-overcrowded) parking lot.
Ms. Regan, Ms. Benson, and others repeatedly tell students to quit whining about the new program or an imagined paucity of spaces. "We continually watch the availability of space at peak times throughout the day and week and have always found a surplus of spaces this year," Ms. Regan recently told a University News reporter. What she failed to emphasize was that these spaces were in lots (particularly the Olive garage) either on the far ends of campus, or inaccessible to most students (e.g., the Laclede garage), or both. She neglected to note that once-available lots like the one behind my apartment building are consistently overflowing throughout the week.
The simple fact is that all SLU permit parkers are getting less for more! We took a 65+% hike in prices for fewer parking options. 'Nuff said.
*Thanks to Nick Fagen for pointing this out.
Circling the Lot, with Nowhere to Park
This is me (or any other arbitrary, frustrated SLU student), searching for a parking spot, waiting for someone to vacate a spot, hoping that I don't have to once again park a half mile away from my apartment building at 2 a.m.
In case you wondered why the car driving around the lot is two different colors (maroonish and blue) - it represents my 1990 Sunbird. My car suffered a bit of front-end damage last year and I had to replace the bumper, nosepiece, and hood with a red wine-colored junker's. I still haven't gotten around to painting the front end blue, like the rest of the car (the last time I tried painting a car was a bit of a disaster), hence, the two-tone vehicle.
(4-14-2001) I just painted these parts blue, so don't look for a multicolored Sunbird if you're trying to find me :->
The Palm Tree
Just a couple of years ago, the dilapidated "State Apartments" building was razed. Awaiting the structure(s) which would replace it, many SLU faithful were suprised (and confused) when lush grass, two mini-pools, a volleyball net, and some palm trees appeared where the old apartment building once stood. Although this one has been a hotly debated issue from time to time, I don't really have an opinion on the prudence of this decision or the usefulness of these new additions to the campus scenery.
It's all nice to look at (at least during the summer - the palm trees are shipped off for warmer storage during most of our chilly Saint Louis school year) and many folks enjoy the pools and volleyball net during summer months. I must admit some amusement, however, at the decision to erect such a site in lieu of a replacement dorm hall or apartment building, considering the current shortage of on-campus housing.
DPS Officers Boot a Transient Fellow, while Substance-abusing Youngsters Watch
I want to preface anything I say about this with my belief that SLU's Public Safety Department does a first-class job of keeping the Saint Louis University campuses safe and virtually crime-free. DPS maintains, in the middle of a high crime area of the city of Saint Louis, a lower crime rate than many suburban areas of the Saint Louis Metropolitan area. I feel as safe walking around on SLU's campus grounds, at any hour of the day or night, as I did in the Florissant, Missouri neighborhood where I was raised.
This scene is intended to poke fun at two things. First, it seems that one action DPS officers take in order to maintain campus safety is steering various neighborhood wanderers clear from (or off of) the SLU campus. This can be somewhat humorous (pathetic?) to watch from time to time (usually at night). Second, the infants in the background - smoking a joint and guzzling a brew - represent the substance abuse that goes on, rather unhindered by DPS or other authority, among even the youngest of our student ranks. If I had a nickel for every time I had to wade through a marijuana-smog in a Marchetti hallway to get to my apartment...
The Tanning Scene (The End)
SLU recently leased a space in the basement of the Marchetti West tower (funny how my own apartment building seems to keep coming up in my movie...) to "SLU Tan," a business endeavour run by a SLU law student (& former SLU undergrad). All my rantings about the carcinogenic effects of such UV-light exposure as one receives while fake-baking aside, I must admit a personal bias in the whole situation (besides, I once experimented with the ol' skin-roasters myself, before I read up on the nasty things tanning beds can do to fair-skinned Northern-European Irish/Dutch/German mutts like myself). You see, I repeatedly inquired about leasing the same space, just over a year ago, for my computer-service business (the one I mentioned above, in the explanation of the parking scene). The good folks at SLU - Mark Berry (or was it "Barry"?) and Father Stark, I believe - simply told me that they would let me know later on, then ignored my request. Oh well...
The Frequent Tuition Raises (Moneybags)
In my three-and-a-half years as a SLU student, SLU's tuition has risen sharply every school year. During a time when inflation is low and national annual school tuition increases have slowed to around 4-5%, SLU continues to raise tuition around 7% every year, with no end in sight (I'm just glad I'll be done before it's so high next year that I would have to begin taking out additional full-interest loans to cover the increases!). During my years here - between 1997 and now - Saint Louis University tuition (independant of room, lab, parking, and misc. other fees) has risen from $14,940 to $18,400 - an three-year increase of $3,460 or nearly 25%.
I understand that college tuition goes up (and up and up and up), but golly-gee! The campus looks a bit better than when I arrived, but I always hear Fr. Biondi insisting that only endowment/donation monies (and none of my tuition dollars) are spent on the new campus beautification projects (not that I'd be opposed if my tuition dollars went toward making SLU look better). I just can't say that I'm quite getting a $3,460 better education than I did three years ago... heck, factor in the pain-in-the-neck 3/4-mile walk back from my parking space I endure on many weeknights and you could make a case that my current SLU experience is worth $3,460 less!
Some Final (?) Thoughts
I have enjoyed my time at Saint Louis University. I enjoy many aspects of this school. I am satisfied with nearly all of the basic educational services I have received here. The campus is absolutely beautiful and its various amusements are a joy to utilize. Believe me, this part of midtown Saint Louis is eons better off now than it was just a decade ago. Everyone has a gripe or two about something; sometimes it's best to make light of a situation and just laugh it off.
This page was migrated from Joel Geerling's former SLU-hosted website, which used to be accessible at http://www.slu.edu/people/geerlijc-00.html until 2007, when it was migrated to Jeff Geerling's website.