This parking lot was so attractive to some people that they came to work early just to get one of these fine parking spaces. It was quite a status symbol to go out to that center of the campus parking lot and nonchalantly get in your car. As you drove away you would wave to the less fortunate people who had to go quite a distance to get their car.
As happens to all good things, one day the UNM leaders declared this wonderful parking lot would be closed forever. We were incredulous at the announcement. A friend complained, “The very idea of them using taxpayer money to turn our valuable parking spaces into, can you believe it, a duck pond. We have to do something.”
The battle was not pretty. Signs on campus proclaimed, “We don’t need no stinking duck ponds, we need more parking lots.” Other signs said, “The taxpayers cannot afford to be building duck ponds.”
The protests, including a rude song, President Bud Davis’s Duck Pond, luckily fell on deaf ears. The protests continued until the first day the water and the ducks and the sunshine made everyone feel great.
Here is the point of my story: today the UNM Duck Pond and Commons Area is one of the defining campus symbols of UNM. Best I can tell, pretty much everyone cherishes the duck pond. In fact, if someone desires a beating all they have to do is go to UNM and propose turning the duck pond into 200 parking spaces. It might even be worse. They might be shot at sunrise on three consecutive mornings for just such a suggestion.
The duck pond has attracted many new students to UNM. When they come for the campus visit it is one of the first places they go. So whatever the university spent on constructing the duck pond is more than covered by the money the additional students bring to UNM over the year. Therefore, it is good UNM officials had foresight and thick skins.
The same syndrome applies at school bond election time. First, it is the mechanism to fund capital projects in school districts. We pass bonds for the future. Shortsighted people oppose bonds because that money does not provide personal benefit. read full column