By Bethany-Angel Chijindu (MGM ’17), Guest Writer
The morning after I graduated from Thunderbird, I woke up to the news that the campus I had come to love would be moving downtown. I was sad to hear about the move, and I spent that day depressed instead of basking in the joy of having just graduated. I mourned the loss of a great place which had nurtured generations of T-birds, and a place where I had gotten back my confidence and courage. That evening, as I packed up my room, I took some time to talk and visit with a few of the friends I had made in my short one year on campus.
Two days after I graduated, and one day after I heard the news of the move, I moved out of the dorm. This impacted me even more emotionally. As I said good bye and took a few pictures, I was determined to treasure this precious campus forever in my heart.
Moving is not a new thing to me, and leaving behind special places is part of my experience as a Global Citizen and a Misfit. But I have learned over the years to carry with me and treasure the memories of significant places in my life. I have read a lot of people’s comments and opinions about the move, and from what I have read and heard it is clear that this campus is a special place that should be honored, and that this campus is part of what makes Thunderbird. This is a sentiment that I share.
A year ago, I visited the campus with my family for the first time. I had just arrived from Nigeria, and my family wanted to see where I would be calling home. I fell in love at first sight: the history combined with the scenic views captured my heart that day. In January, I moved into the dorms and began my studies, and soon met people who would become my friends.
And while this campus has been an amazing place to study and hang out with friends, I know that moving campuses may actually be the best thing for the future of the school. My initial anger upon hearing the news seems to be waning, and although there is a sadness that might remain for some time, I can also think strategically about what is best for the future.
The truth is that our campus, as it is currently being used, is not being fully utilized. This can be clearly seen in the use of the library. Often times, the library would be empty at certain hours of the day. The study rooms were often booked and used, but a lot of the sitting area in the library was under utilized.
During the one year I spent in Glendale, there were many times when walking across the empty campus my heart ached, and I thought of what could be done to increase the student population. I would imagine what a bustling and lively campus would look like. One only has to look at pictures of what campus was like a few years ago, to see how lively Thunderbird used to be.
Despite these challenges, the spirit of Thunderbird remains and thrives. I will always treasure the moments I spent at events like Regional Nights, hanging out with friends in the Pub, and getting to know people from other cultures.
As I think of the future, and the move to Downtown, I can see the possibilities and how the Thunderbird spirit can still go on despite the change of location. But I also know many of the alumni have questions about the process of moving, and it is clear the administration needs to do a better job in communicating with both students and alumni: many people are afraid that Thunderbird may not recover from this move, that it will disappear completely into the ASU world. It is easy to see why many feel this way.
Moving forward we need to give people the chance to mourn and grieve. This campus is part of our history and who we are, and we can’t just expect people to move on without a second thought of what this place means for so many of us. However, it is clear that a great change is happening, one that will affect the future of the school. We have to adapt, and this is one thing that we should be able to do as a community with a strong global mindset.