An anonymous donor wrote a letter to Mines last week saying that he is “willing to commit any amount of money” to the school as long as it will be spent on the purchase and care of poodles. The donor included a preliminary donation of $20,000. Campus officials have said that they will accept the offer, although they are still unsure how the poodles will contribute to campus life. “It’s hard to argue with free money,” said one board member, who declined to be named, “it’s like arguing with free food. Perhaps it’s not our favorite dish. Perhaps it’s not what we need to have right now. So what? It’s free.”
Plans are already being made to accommodate Buster, the first poodle purchased through the fund. He will spend his first few days with a free range of the campus until a permanent home is found. At the time of writing, there were two options being seriously considered. Based on two of the donor’s recommendations, Buster could be passed from class to class “to evoke memories of the grade school ‘class pet’” or he could stand guard over the M. “It is a little known fact that,” the donor explained in his letter, “because of their famous intelligence and heritage as a hunting dog, standard poodles make keen watchdogs.”
In the future, school officials hope to diversify Mines’ poodle collection to include miniature and even teacup poodles. However, there is some concern that teacup poodles may be more difficult to contain due to their increased intelligence and compact size. “We do have our dangerous areas on campus,” said metallurgy professor Tarn Adams, “and those little poodles! My niece has one, and it gets into near well everything. You can’t outsmart the beasts.”
Students’ reactions to the donation have been mild, for the most part. “As long as they don’t dress up Buster as a donkey for E-days,” student body president Zach Mosus joked, “it’s all a bit of harmless fun. Though sometimes I wonder if eccentricity is a prerequisite for donating to the school.” Since poodles are hypoallergenic and do not shed, they have also gotten the green light from the notoriously difficult-to-please campus asthma foundation. Most students interviewed about the donation thought it was quirky and charming, though a few complained that the money could be better spent. It seems that the donor anticipated such complaints, because he added the following to the end of his letter:
“Are poodles ‘useful’? No, of course not. Could I have given my money to a better cause, earmarked it towards a better fund? Perhaps. On the other hand, many of the students of the Colorado School of Mines will grow up to be engineers. They will be surrounded by usefulness and metrics and efficiency (or not) day by day. Does this usefulness exist? Is it useful to exclude whimsy and fancy from our measurements of use? I hope the students of your institution will learn to ask these questions. And I hope that they will be reminded they asked them whenever they see a poodle.”
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