Lately it has been ridiculously cold and generally unpleasant outside, and this is making it less fun to be here in Ames (which is not that fun to begin with). It is time for the administration of Iowa State to do something about this. It is just too damn cold, and this is unfair to both students and faculty of this university.
Not being able to control the weather is not a valid excuse. In fact, the lack of such an ability shows that the meteorology department is woefully underfunded. The members of the Meteorological Research group surely deserve more than $219,626 annually, which was shockingly what they received last year, according to the official ISU budget report. Why even have a meteorology department if we are not putting it to good use? The program has existed for decades and yet unpleasant weather is still not being prevented.
Regardless of the deficiencies of the meteorology department, there is still a severe lack of work being done to protect students from nature. One potential solution is to construct a giant glass dome covering all of campus, which would allow us all to enjoy a pleasant greenhouse effect. The university itself could design such a glass bubble, probably through some kind of engineering. Materials engineering could even create special Cy-glass.
Having an enormous greenhouse would also save Iowa State money because less funding would need to be spent on using the greenhouses currently located on campus. In addition, we would finally have an opportunity to grow exotic fruits (which would help in the fight against scurvy) and the environment would be more inviting to students native to tropical climates. This would give Iowa State the ability to expand recruiting efforts beyond areas such as China and expand more into places like Somalia or India (a surprising fact: many Indian students are not fans of Iowa’s winters).
Unfortunately, there are important and unavoidable issues that would arise with the construction of a giant greenhouse. Due to the giant windows used in skywalk systems, the most primary concern would be the inevitable death of many of the beloved crows in this area for which our campus has become known. The removal of birds that have died from glass impact would undoubtedly prove very expensive.
Though no plans for a greenhouse campus have yet been drafted, there has been some effort to protect students from imperfect weather through the construction of skywalks on campus. But that effort has obviously fallen short. It is appalling that we are still required to go outside to get to our classes. Walking to class is an activity that is only truly enjoyable while indoors. For students to avoid the unpleasantness of nature, every building needs to be connected, as well as the residence halls and the entire Greek community. However, having an elaborate system of inter-building connections would likely result in additional exercise equipment being placed within the skywalks themselves, and people using stair-steppers would be a significant distraction to passers-by.
Another possibility that has been attempted at other universities is a system of underground, climate-controlled tunnels. Here at Iowa State, having a network of underground tunnels would have multiple benefits beyond avoiding weather. Naval ROTC students would have experience in a submarine-esque environment; veterinarian and animal ecology students would gain a keen understanding of the perspective of gophers. Although these tunnels would suffice to keep students from experiencing nature, lamentably the views would be terrible, and the lack of sunlight would make students pale and unpleasant.
Rather than building tunnels or skywalks, the overall best solution may be to replace Iowa State’s campus, composed of many beautiful and historic buildings, with a single giant industrial structure similar to an enormous shopping center. Conveniently, this structure would serve purposes other than keeping students confined indoors. Unused classroom space could be leased to retail outlets, and this would create many opportunities to have more locations to sell ISU merchandise. Additionally, escalators would relieve students and faculty from the burden of using stairs. This type of school has already been used in places such as Southern California. Here in Iowa, we are known for the ideal that "if you build it, they will come." Perhaps if you build a mall of classrooms, students will come to class.
Regardless of how it is accomplished, the administration of Iowa State needs to do something about the weather. The students and faculty here deserve better. Studies have shown that better weather makes people happier, and further studies have shown that happy students are better students. There is no reason any one of us at Iowa State should have to put up with Mother Nature, and the time has come for our leaders to take action.
Alexander Maxwell is a senior in computer engineering from Monterey, California.