Normally, I would consider the students on Ohio Northern University’s campus to be a high-standing, educated, mid-western kind of a bunch. I imagine the students on this campus to be the kind of people with hearts of gold and love to play corn hole after a long day of work. But a week ago an issue was brought to my attention that worried me about our student body’s conduct and the fate of our native birds on campus.
This incident entailed a student terrorizing one of the black swans on our lake. The student grabbed the swan by the neck and violently shook him whilst bragging to his friends, as if holding a prized goose. The swan had made no indication of attacking the student. In the past there have been no cited incidents of native wildlife attacking our students. I wonder why this student felt the need to terrorize something that poses no threat to him.
You may think I’m silly or overreacting to this issue, but the birds on our campus are a part of our culture at ONU. Everyone on campus seems to have some story regarding the multitude of ducks, geese and swans that we encounter on an almost daily basis. However, there are stories passed down that refer to our mistreatment of these birds. We are all aware that there are only three black swans on campus. When I was a freshman, I was told that one of the original four swans was run over by a truck. Some people have even heard that the bird was stoned to death. When people hear these stories the usual reactions seem to be sad, however many times people seem to react to the birds negatively. The black swans are referred to as mean individuals who only want to attack us. It seems sad that our few precious black swans on campus have a bad name. They are constantly referred to as “evil” and “scary,” often causing groups of freshman to run in panic when the trio starts to make their way over or cause noise.
Not only are the black swans on campus important, but there are also multiple other groups of fowl on our campus that need attention. We have geese with broken wings, a native flock of ducks and a new pair of white farm ducks that love to be around people. These animals are what make our campus unique. Rarely do I hear of friend’s school’s having a population of birds, or any other group of animals that make such an impact on their campuses. We have stories surrounding these animals. We have a history with them. These animals need to be protected so that we can prevent harmful or poor treatment in the future. Our lake has become a haven for different types of fowl and I can’t believe no one has had the thought of taking care of them or noticing them before. I am not only shocked by the inherently evil action of our peer, but worried about the welfare of our native wildlife to campus. Is there a representative for the animals that live on our lake? Would this be a good program for the biology students or environmental science students to take on? I think we as students at Ohio Northern have a very prime opportunity to become even more proactive in our environmental and leadership efforts. Something must be done to protect our animals from harmful students again.
I am shocked and appalled by the actions of my fellow students. Another incident occurred like the first one today of all days. It involved two students throwing rocks at our poor black swans. This harm needs to stop and I hope the letter I wrote to the campus newspaper can help out in some small way. My friends and I have also contacted thought leaders on our campus, and the president of student senate to see what can be done about this matter. I'm sure that people will laugh about the cause I am supporting, because they probably don't think our animals are that important, but I'm an environmentalist at heart. These animals have done nothing to harm us and cost our university tons of money (at least the black swans did). I just hope the future is bright for our animals and that our students learn to stop acting like them.
food for thought: "Once you choose hope, anything is possible." - Christopher Reeve
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