There seems to be a disconnect between the goals of Trent University and those of the people who care for its natural areas. The new proposed Trent Lands Plan takes a good step forward in tackling the issues of caring for its wetlands, forests and natural areas, but the dedication to the goals set forth in it are missing. During the most recent Trent Lands Town Hall, it was asked what sort of funding was going to be put forth to help tackle issues such as the many invasive species that mar these public areas. The response was in line with the “old Trent University,” the one that proposed to build an arena on a provincially significant wetland, or cut down sacred cedars without Indigenous consultation. It is still the same Trent University that sells land to developers and has them build housing they lease for students, and it is the same Trent that will build atop declining Western Chorus Frog habitat and ignore the impacts. Their response was that they will look to donors and benefactors to help support Trent's Nature Areas.
To me, this does not feel like a University that has truly listened to the concerns of students, non-profits, naturalists and maybe even its professors when it chooses to make decisions. Why was it announced that Trent would have its coffers increased for three years by the provincial government in the same month that we are learning that they do not intend to invest in their Nature Areas?
The way forward is not through building a Cleantech Commons, a Sustainability Village, or even a Long-Term Care facility until you begin to care for what you already have. That is the way forward, leading us, our malleable minds that have come to learn from you, to dedicate our joys and tears to you, who bite our tongue in an age of long-distance learning with the same tuition fees, who seek the experiential learning promised to us, but have been denied. I want to look back fondly on my years at Trent, I want to know that I made a mark and that I can carry that pride with me as I move forth in the world, armed with the knowledge I have learnt, but I can not do that without first being taught morality.
The Trent Lands Plan's goal should be a guiding document that tells us how the lands will be used, how they will be cared for, and how our legacy as students will carry on. Yet, instead of investing in the Nature areas, you do what seems to come naturally, you pass off the responsibility. I implore you, Trent University, reinvest in your nature areas, give us the means to help you, provide funding to your committees, give them the backbone they need to elicit a real change in the direction of the University, stop making us write reports about the invasion of European buckthorn and give us the tools to be experiential learners. To those reading, I hope this has resonated with you, Trent University is at a turning point, this new Trent Lands Plan will be the guiding document for land use going forward for possibly the next 20 years, do not let this moment pass without letting them hear what you want, what you need this great University to be, so that when you do leave, you know you have left your mark.
The Collective of Western Chorus Frogs
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