In an unprecedented move to further its control on housing for students, Drexel University announced March 13 via email that construction had begun to turn Drexel Park into a cemetery, where alumni will be interred to fulfill the new after-death on-campus housing requirement.
The announcement, appended to a course evaluation reminder, at first went largely unnoticed by students. “All comments are anonymous. No one will be able to link a specific comment to a specific student, and faculty will not be able to see their course evaluations until grades have been posted,” the email began, seemingly no different from the many others.
“Students are highly encouraged to complete this survey. Students are slightly less encouraged to check their DrexelOne accounts and review their new billing statement in anticipation of fulfilling their after-death housing requirements. Thank you for your time,” the email concluded.
While little on the topic has been formally released, The Rectangle managed to get an exclusive interview with one of the construction workers in Drexel Park, Doug Graves.
“I’ve been in the excavation business for as long as I can remember. My dad did it, and his dad before him, so I guess at this point I’m an expert on the topic. Started in high school. Dad and I would get on about our favorite diggers and whatnot and my mom would come in hootin’ and hollerin’ and being all ‘Now boys, you stop that dirt talkin’ at the table!’ and I … oh, right. You’re here about the project. Sorry, I don’t talk to people much,” he said.
Graves nodded at the array of ditches surrounding him, many extending rather far into the earth. “We’re digging ‘em deep, yeah. Drexel asked for triple occupancy, and we let ‘em have it, since there isn’t any fire code to comply with here, not like in the dorms anyway. That President Juan Fry or whatever his name is, he walks up to me when we first started working, all smiles and giggles and tells me, ‘I want you to pack ‘em tighter than they pack the seats in Curtis 231!’ and I look ‘im in the eye and I says, ‘Whatcha doin’ with custard now?’ He sighs and says, ‘Pack them in like tuna!’ and I laughed and told ‘im I could do it.”
Graves is quick to applaud the University’s dedication to the project, saying that he has yet to have a client so eager to make sure the job is done. “It’s gettin’ like their lives depend on it, y’know? Which is funny, since it isn’t their lives that’ll be endin’ here!”
While the graveyard is incomplete, the University has already begun testing some of the sites for size and location using passed-out students from Erin Express. Mitchel Hanon, a senior public health major, was shocked to find himself surrounded by dirt, six feet under the piercing gaze of Yorrick Grimm, the night watchman for the site.
“It was insane! One minute, I was hangin’ out at Cav’s telling my bro he totally needs to put more green on and like, get in the groove of it y’know? St. Paddy’s Day sprit and whatever! Then, next thing I know, I wake up with a raging hangover and I am like, freezing in some ditch with a creepy old guy glaring down at me,” Hanon said of his abrupt arrival.
He was then asked to pull the string near his right hand, which rang a bell and signaled his sobriety and readiness for release. While his visit was generally problem-free, Hanon will have one souvenir from his unexpected trip. “So then I get up, sore as hell and start trying to walk back to my house. This guy stops me, puts his hand to my head and starts chanting some total crap and tells me, ‘My soul will soon depart’ or whatever, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, dude, I know. Finals are going to suck, don’t remind me.’ After all that, they added a fee to my account for overnight housing! Nearly a million dollars, can you believe that?”
Students who have not had close encounters as Hanon, such as Lori Britch, a junior fashion design major, are completely unaware of the changes. When The Rectangle asked what she thought about the situation, her answer conveyed what much of the student body is likely to be thinking. “What? No. Just, like, no. That’s like, really weird. Why doesn’t Buzzfeed have an article out about that by now? I just, ugh, I can’t even. Like, I love my roomies and all that, right? But I totally can’t imagine having to spend forevs with them! God, I can’t stand being in the same room as Amanda with her perfume for more than five minutes already! And what am I going to do about when she brings her boyfriend over? Like, excuse me, get a room or a grave or something.”
The Rectangle also tracked down alumna Sarah Robertson, who graduated with a degree in engineering, on her death bed. Surrounded by her teary-eyed loved ones, who had traveled from all over the country to her South Philadelphia home to eat her last homemade pierogis, she was informed that she would be spending her days in a triple occupancy grave at Drexel. She attempted to use her last breath to say something.
“What is it grandma?” asked one of her 32 big brown-eyed grandchildren, their lips quivering at the sight of the woman that use to give them sink baths and sing them lullabies.
“Shafted again,” she whispered, her eyes glazing over.