Invest in academics rather than aesthetics

It’s hard not to notice the construction on campus. Chances are, unless you’re the rare fan of lengthy detours or booming and blaring power tools, you haven’t taken too kindly to this construction, especially around the almost-finished $20 million Student Activities Center (SAC).

Unfortunately, such a scene is common across any institution of higher education in the country. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a tremendous college building boom over the past 15 years, especially in “the amenities: the climbing walls, the swank student unions and the luxury dorms.”

The fact is, such facets of campuses make college life more bearable and remain a huge draw for incoming freshmen. This university’s administration knows it too. Our brave members in P100 simultaneously walk backward, try not to look like tools in their khakis, and point out the wonders of the breathtaking SAC that will be finished in time for their campus visitors to move in.

Interestingly, a new report from researchers at the University of Michigan points out that these new amenities are a factor in students’ college enrollment decisions. However, the academically minded ones (that a rising university like UM would hope to attract) primarily decide, unsurprisingly, on the school’s academics.

Bells and whistles are enjoyable, and surely by this point we all can’t wait for that first Rathskeller pitcher. But investments in good resources, professors and research will sow the best rewards for universities and students alike.

It’s heartening that the total spent on the SAC, basically a glorified pub, is less than half of the $47 million on the RSMAS’s Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex, or in English, science’s coolest wave pool.

Such decisions show that once the construction has stopped – that is hoping that this will be the end of it – our Alma Mater can focus on the most important part of the college experience: a solid education.


Patrick Quinlan is a freshman majoring in international studies and political science.