EDITORIAL: Historical campus buildings, student center deserve equal attention

By Editorial Board

The construction of the new student center is well underway with completion slated for late spring 2019. Students can witness the building’s construction. Over the past year, several campus buildings have been sold to help fund the center, such as the college’s share of the University Center, 525 S. State St., The Johnson Publishing Building, 820 S. Michigan Ave. and, most recently, 731 S. Plymouth Court. After it is built, the new student center will be five stories high, 114,000 square feet and cost $50 million, as reported May 2017 by The Chronicle.

For fiscal year 2018, the college spent $35.2 million on maintenance for buildings and grounds on campus and the upkeep of facilities and properties.

The new student center will be grand, but other buildings on campus could benefit greatly from increased attention, as well.

More lounge areas for commuter students could be added throughout buildings. Many commuters have a hard time finding a place to spend time during the day. For some, the student center will be far away from their classes. It is important the college provides those resources in all campus buildings so students have convenient options.

For a liberal arts college, Columbia should look like a school focused on creativity, but many areas don’t. When walking through classrooms and hallways in 623 S. Wabash Ave. and 618 S. Michigan Ave., students are met with blank walls and chalkboards. Campus buildings should match the quality of the student center. Otherwise, the new building will stick out like a sore thumb.

The college is filled with artistic students who can be asked to design and paint empty spaces. Columbia can use its students to its advantage.

In some buildings, like 618 S. Michigan Ave., the elevators are cramped and small, only fitting a couple students at a time. This makes students more likely to be late for classes because of the long wait time.

In addition to using funds from building sales for the student center, Columbia could freshen up current buildings, too. Pushing resources toward one building while consolidating the campus and taking away other resources does not make students feel appreciated or validated by a college they pay thousands of dollars in tuition and fees for each year. Giving equal attention to all buildings could help retain and recruit new students by creating an inviting and fun campus. Columbia should strive for a campus as creative and captivating as the students that populate it.

Students unhappy with conditions on campus should attend Student Government Association meetings to get more involved and be informed. Meanwhile, the college must keep students in the loop with their plans for campus buildings so as not to confuse students by a constantly changing environment. Inform students when buildings are put up for sale and where the resources will be applied. Be more transparent to help students better understand the spirit of the college. That way, Columbia has a campus everyone can be proud of.