Peabody What? [Peabody Park at UNCG]

Editorial, The Carolinian (Greensboro, North Carolina), 15 November 2001.

Peabody What?

If I asked you where the McIver building was, you could probably tell me. If I gave you an unlabeled map of campus you could point out Mossman (unless you’ve been lucky enough to not spar with the demigods of student scheduling or administration). Even if you’re still a freshman, you should be able to find your way around the campus without a problem.

Now comes the sad part—how many of you can even begin to tell me where you think Peabody Park might be?

Huh? What’s this Peabody thing you’re talking about, Brian? Certainly if the University had several acres of preserved natural forest, set aside both for the opportunity of scientific observation and for its simple beauty, they would want to at the very least exploit it as a campus attraction, wouldn’t they?

Well, I suppose that the main problem with that theory is it makes too much sense. Aside from that, however, I honestly believe that the University DOESN’T WANT people to know what Peabody Park is and what it stands for.

A hundred years ago, 125 acres of forest containing a few streams and open fields were set aside for the Women’s College as a natural resource by wealthy benefactor George Foster Peabody, presumably in the hopes that future students would be able to enjoy the Park in its natural state. That land is significantly reduced these days (more on that later), and it can be hard to define exactly where the Park begins and ends. The easiest examples are the woods and amphitheater behind Moore-Strong and the woods around Grogan and Reynolds halls.

Was expansion of the University inevitable? I think so. Was it necessary to develop on Park land? Doubtful. Should we encourage—no, allow—further unneeded destruction of the remaining land? Absolutely not. As I said before, Peabody Park started out with 125 acres. Would you like to guess how much is left? The answer is 34 acres.

You might think that it would end there, that after destroying about three quarters of the Park the rest would be left alone, but that isn’t the case. The current campus master plan of construction includes the destruction of a large part of the Park area behind Moore-Strong to make room for another dormitory and parking lot. This is something the University administrators would LOVE to see happen; you can tell because when the idea first came up five years ago, opposition by the students and even the focus group was so strong that the plan was dismissed. For years students and faculty have fought, protested, debated, informed, petitioned and struggled to preserve Peabody Park. Their efforts have been summarily dismissed. Bottom line—University administrators don’t care what you have to say.

I don’t consider myself an environmentalist. If the rainforests need a champion, it won’t be me fighting for their cause. All I am is a college student, no different from any other. All I know is that the Park is far more than just a piece of land waiting to be turned into a parking lot. All I can ask is that you consider what I’ve told you and you don’t let this “students first” University ignore you. All I can hope for is the protection of the most beautiful part of this campus. All I can do is say what I believe. What will you do?

The information for this article was researched at […] the official Peabody Park website. I recommend you visit the site for more information on the Park and its history.

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