A few weeks ago, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., made an impassioned speech on the floor of the United States Senate. In this speech, Gregg decried the waste of green road signs marking projects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Such signs, he informs us, are mere political statements and are constructed in vain by the scary new “socialist” government. They are nothing more than superficial, Gregg said. I happen to think Mr. Gregg should concern himself with bigger problems, but I believe that his crusade against the unnecessary is better applied to our fair University.
So let us begin anew this year in earnest.
It appears that, for once, the University and I may already be on the same wavelength. There has recently been a substantial amount of construction around campus, such as the work on the Smith Center, Funger Hall, and the newly named South Hall. I applaud efforts to remedy ageing and crippled infrastructure to ensure that the University’s appearance is befitting of its reputation. I just hope that the University is more thoughtful in their priorities.
I hearken back to a prior column of mine chastising the University for neglecting what is probably the most used building on campus, Gelman Library. While we have seen plans for a renovated first floor and have heard news of an increased number of outlets, we have yet to see any substantial moves toward implementing a face lift. I still feel that a top-flight library is more important and useful at an institution of higher learning than more comfortable gym bleachers.
Why not divert some of those “student activities” funds to the library project or even some of the proposed $25 – $31 million on “below-grade parking” improvements? The University seems to have failed to actively begin substantial library improvements and instead have allowed plans to languish in favor of other projects. The fact that GW’s Web site got a makeover while Gelman remains decaying is an even more pointed example of these perverse priorities.
While many schools throughout the country are facing greatly shrunk endowments, GW finds itself uniquely on comparatively higher financial ground. GW is then in a position to offer higher wages, and invest more into our facilities than the majority of schools. The University must capitalize on this moment by ensuring that every learning space is equipped for the 21st century and is utilized by the finest teachers that GW can attract. Building a sound academic base does more for the University’s image than a new athletic center.
The University seems to be on the right track with projects like renovations to Funger Hall and decrepit residence halls, but it must not stray into the pointless and frivolous. Investment should be directed in a more intelligent way, placing the most used and neglected buildings above less-important projects.
A recession is a good time to reset policy and practices. As we are now, hopefully, recovering from financial apocalypse, let us thoroughly change our old ways at GW and reset our priorities.
The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.
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