Let’s Get Our Priorities Straight…
December 15, 2008
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Who is more important: students that pay to attend UNH or old men (for the most part) that visit the school about once a semester? Well, if you’re a student you probably chose the former. If you are an administrator, you have clearly chosen the second option.
For four years now, I have seen the school pretty much shut down in preparation for the Board of Governors (let’s call them the BOG). Suddenly, everything is painted, broken things are fixed, and students have limited access to things they need.
I have two problems with this ridiculous system. One is a matter of priorities. The other is my effort to put myself in the shoes of the Board of Governors.
To begin, I must repeat myself from former editorials. I do not feel like students are ever considered this university’s first priority. When President Kaplan went to a USGA meeting last year to ask our opinion about what color the new turf field should be, the decision was already made- a blue field would get our returning football team more attention. The ideas that we would merely be Boise State copycats, that the uniforms would blend into the field, and that the color would be too bright to handle were pushed aside and barely heard. And this is only one example of UNH’s goal of glory (the new residence hall is another one, but I won’t get into that).
We as students are often barred from using our own facilities when the BOG rolls into town. But why? Is it really that dangerous to let us use the Alumni Lounge at night when the BOG isn’t actually there? Are we really that destructive? Does is really look that bad when organizations have tables in Bartels fundraising or raising awareness about issues? There is no reason why we should not be allowed to have access to facilities just because the BOG is coming.
What is truly sad about the situation is how obvious it is that administration does not care about the condition of our facilities until the BOG is coming. Those blue stairs in Maxcy? Well, they were good enough for us students but they were much too hideous for the BOG. The whole library-end of Maxcy was painted, retiled, and carpeted just because the BOG was going to be in Maxcy looking at the new media center.
Maintenance was also busy all week painting over stains on the ceiling tiles of the Alumni Lounge. Again, the eyesore of stains is fine for students to look at, but certainly not the BOG. Someone actually said to me, “We should point something out to them [administrators] right before the Board of Governors comes just so it will get fixed.” Not a bad idea since they have cemented their pattern of fixing things for them and not us. Budget cuts have lead to a prioritization of work orders, leaving many things consistently broken (like the mirror on the corner of Sheffield that is necessary for cars to see if other cars are coming). Instead, the budget is being spent on painting ceiling tile stains. Great.
Let’s take a look at the other hand. If I was on the BOG, I can’t imagine that I would want to see anything but how the school really is. I wouldn’t want one end of Maxcy to be fixed right before my arrival. I’d want to see what kind of conditions the students go to school in. I’d like to know that when students first arrive, the soles of their shoes become stained from the painted floors. I’d like to know that there are stains on the ceiling tiles (especially when the roof of Bartels still hasn’t been fixed all semester as it was supposed to be). I’d like to be able to read the student newspaper to get the students’ perspective on the school. If I’m donating my time and money to this school, I want to see it as it is.
I apologize if anyone feels like I am being overly cynical or whiny. However, it is clear to many students (as well as faculty and staff) that here at UNH the BOG is more important than the students. Every time the BOG comes to visit, I feel as though I should hide. Because if all the eyesores are being fixed for their arrival, us useless students might as well be hidden as well. We only go here. We only live here. We only pay to be here. Why should we matter at all? Why should anything be fixed for us? Why should we be able to use programming space? It’s a terrible feeling to know that you are last on the list of someone’s priorities.