AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT AMY GUTMANN TO THE PENN COMMUNITY REGARDING THE INSTITUTION OF A NEW PROGRAM
23 October 2017
An outbreak has swept across our campus, reaching students from David Rittenhouse Labs to 40th Street. The traumatic effects sustained from such incidents include injury, prolonged suffering, and life-long emotional damage. It is a terrible shame that in this current time, at a university with prestige and a vast array of resources, an issue such as this one persists.
As I am sure you are already aware, the bricks along Locust Walk that are mislaid, wobbly, and sometimes entirely missing are frankly the biggest threats to the wellbeing of Penn’s greater populace. These loose bricks pose a tripping threat with severe negative impacts on the daily life of many of our students and faculty.
Here at the University of Pennsylvania, mental health is of fourthmost foremost importance. Tripping on a brick on Locust walk can not only cause momentary embarrassment, but also continued distress if the incident occurs in the presence of that guy from writing seminar, your geriatric linear algebra professor, or last week’s hook-up. I once tripped on a brick, and Dean Furda said “had a nice trip? See you next fall!” to me for an entire month. I had to buy a burgeoning cryptocurrency start-up just to console myself. (Note: I, Amy Gutmann, goddess among mortals, have in fact never tripped on anything, but I thought this anecdote might humanize me.)
Mislaid bricks pose a physical threat, as well. Imagine you are walking by the Button, when your foot catches on the top of a brick. Your ankle bends and cracks as you writhe in agony. You limp to Student Health Services, where they diagnose you with mono. You limp to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center to seek a better prognosis. Outside, you are murdered by a gang member because you are walking alone north of Market Street and my gentrification hasn’t gotten that far just yet. You are only a freshman, gone too soon. Three years of tuition — $217,752 will no longer make it to my offshore bank account. Tragedies like this one happen every semester; it is time we put an end to this culture of loose bricks.
That is why I, Amy Gutmann, your lord and savior, have instituted the first Brick Management Task Force to confront this issue head-on. I have personally stationed one security guard to straddle each problematic brick along Locust Walk. These individuals will deter traffic by holding their arms out, rotating in circles, and loudly announcing, “CAUTION: LOOSE BRICK.”
Some people have asked me, “Amy, why don’t you just replace the bricks, rather than treating the symptom?” To these people, I first scorn them for referring to me by my first name, and then reply that I have already tried this strategy. The bricks simply all come loose sooner or later. Maybe it is time we give up on fixing the systematic problem, and instead focus on how it affects other people.
Here at Penn, we are building a community of strong-willed students devoted to supporting each other. Those who use the services of the task force will therefore be required to pay for those services, as is fair in a self-sustaining community. I do not walk on Locust Walk; rather, I am carried by two footmen from place to place, unseen by commoners such as yourself. I am therefore not required to pay the tax. The University, an institution with a carbon footprint the size of a small-to-midsized African nation but no footprint on Locust Walk, will not pay the tax. Additionally, our affluent and high-born students, who Uber to class rather than walking down Locust Walk, will also not pay the tax. The economically disadvantaged will therefore bear the brunt of the expense, unfortunately.
By confronting the issue of mislaid bricks, we are targeting a problem that affects a wide number of students. Nearly every poor and commonplace student walks down Locust Walk each day. It is in the University’s best interest to provide care for the majority, rather than meeting the needs of the select few. Why should we, for example, provide free and accessible feminine hygiene products if that would only serve half of the student population?
Our hope for this initiative is that we make take a bold step towards building a stronger Penn community, promoting a more happy and healthy student life, or at the very least earning me some extra cha-ching.
Best of luck throughout your journey here at Penn.
Cover image courtesy of Mark Ayzenberg and Fine Art America