Editorial: Get a life, just make sure it’s yours

By and

The recently revived concept of a Student Life Center, as it exists in terms delineated by House Bill 473, represents a number of well-intentioned but poorly developed ideas regarding what constitutes student life and what kind of facilitation is required to improve it.

In order to understand some of the more problematic (or, at least, less logical) dimensions in the current argument for a brand new Student Life Center, one must consider the costs — both financial and theoretical — that building such a center would entail.

On paper, the facility looks to cost $42.5 million — a sum which, under currently proposed legislation, amounts to about $27.5 million bonded by the legislators and $15 million to be raised by the U, specifically by way of increased student fees (a hearsay estimate that clocks in at about $60 per student, per semester).

It’s important to recognize that this funding provided by the state represents not only an enabling sum of currency, but also a quantifiable step in the right direction in terms of recognizing and respecting student/academic voices (especially in matters of our own immediate future).

For this, the state should be applauded — indeed, it is precisely such faith in the intelligence and seriousness of the U that allows institutions like our own to develop and improve. It is similarly this faith in our intelligence that gives light to some of the more egregious failures in the current Student Life Center plan.

As it stands now, the idea is essentially to construct — from the ground up — a brand new, fresh-faced facility that will better suit students’ needs and desires (the need for another caf and the desire for access to flashier exercise equipment? Who knows?). The logic, one intuits, is that the U’s current facilities are not only outdated and modest, but apparently irredeemable — so fatally outmoded as to be utterly unsalvageable.

This is not only inefficient logic, but, more conceptually, capricious and entitled posturing as well.

The simple reduction is this: While it seems reasonable to desire a modern Student Life Center, it does not necessarily seem reasonable to reflexively dismiss the possibility that exactly such a center could be realized as an augmentation to already-existing foundations — or alternatively, in some ways, one cannot presume to imagine — for a significantly reduced cost.

The idea is that there is more than one way to achieve any goal — and that the prudent individual is the one who, in the excitement of pursuit, does not fail to explore a healthy array of possible solutions before settling on a course of action.

Perhaps some students desire certain improvements, but not others.

Perhaps these improvements do not necessarily require the erection of an expensive new structure.

Perhaps they do.

Perhaps it is the case that while students DO have the desire for a more expansive sense of “student life,” a new facility MAY NOT be the best way to fulfill this desire.

At the end of the day, the Student Life Center legislation, as it stands now, assumes that not only will students utilize such a facility in ways they never have before (which is, indeed, quite an assumption), but that this type of center is the best and only way to satisfy the urges of the U student body.

And this is worrisome.

The call ought to go out to U students, who should become more vocal and assertive in their demands, as well as U officials and state legislators, who should actively consider the sentiments of their constituents. We must work together toward a more complete understanding of “student life” at the U — what it means and how best to facilitate it — if ever this Student Life Center endeavor is to come to its most satisfying and reasonable fruition.