CSU: Construction Site University? It’s not funny

Anna MitchellWhen I was contemplating what colleges to apply for, I considered a large number of factors at the urging of guidance counselors: Did they have the degree path I wanted? What was the school size? What does student life look like? Is it affordable?

Despite being told again and again to look at the cost of attendance, one thing that I had not been advised to look at was how the school allocates that money. Had it crossed my mind to look into budgeting, I don’t think I would have become a student at Colorado State.

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The Collegian recently reported that the second engineering building which has been under construction for two years and is cited by the College of Engineering website as “critically needed to accommodate a rapidly-growing college,” remains only 88 percent funded and therefore may not be completed by the anticipated date of next fall.

Regardless of having not raised enough funds from the very beginning, the project got the green light with the intention of raising more funds during the building process. Obviously that did not happen.

Despite the desperate need for this extra classroom space, the building will have to sit there unfinished while the Behavioral Sciences Building undergoes additional construction just three years after being built, and the attractive and highly functioning Lory Student Center gets a “facelift” that will include a microbrewery in the Skeller designed to be a learning experience for students and to attract prospective Rams.

Wait – the Behavioral Sciences Building was built just three years ago, and it needs renovating? And, cool though it would be, it’s more crucial to have a microbrewery in the student center than to build classroom space to accommodate for our ever-expanding university? This is despicable.

And that’s not where it stops. More and more construction plans are being announced, such as the proposed second Warner building that would obtain a LEED Certificate in line with the “green” vision of the university. While the details of this new building  are still up in the air, junior Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism major Meg Mahoney says of the proposal that “the general consensus is it is a waste of resources to get a ‘green resourced’ certification. It is ironic, unnecessary and nobody wants it. We want those materials and the renovation allotted for offices and classrooms.”

On the campus tours prospective students are shown some of the newest and flashiest campus buildings. What they aren’t shown is that the basement floor in Eddy appears to be sinking and the hallways are so tight it becomes impossible to maneuver. Or that a multitude of buildings, such as the Microbiology and Visual Arts Buildings, have suffered flood damage in the past few years. Or that we are shoving three or four professors into a single six foot by six foot office space.

There are very few campus classroom buildings that are not overcrowded and in a disgusting and deteriorating state, desperately in need of repair and renovation. These are the buildings students are spending their college years in. If we can judge the value of an education by the value of the spaces we receive it in, then our degrees are practically worthless.

Are the administrators so removed from the education their university is providing that they believe we need a campus microbrewery more than we need to renovate the overcrowded, deteriorating spaces classes are being held in campus-wide? Or to, minimally, finish construction on desperately needed new classroom spaces?

The university needs to stop looking at how to attract prospective students through flashy new facilities and instead look to attract them through strengthening the academic programs that the students are coming to them in search of in the first place.

What is happening is the equivalent of owning a home that is in desperate need of a new roof, and instead building a fancy home-entertainment system in order to attract prospective home buyers. It just doesn’t make sense.

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How can we students be expected to use college as an opportunity to grow into responsible young adults when our university is so reckless with their expenditures?

I beg those in charge of deciding these endless construction projects to spend a day visiting the actual spaces classes are being held in. Talk to the students and professors at those buildings about how they feel regarding their facilities.

Start taking care of the campus’ needs before its cosmetics.

Anna Mitchell is a junior liberal arts major. Her columns appear Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.