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Editorial: UA Mall, union not only construction on campus

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
September 15, 1999

Workers digging a big hole in the UA Mall and ripping apart the Memorial Student Union are not the only construction woe on campus.

Last Friday, the Arizona Daily Wildcat reported that the UA will only receive $4.2 million in building renewal funds for the 2000 fiscal year, as opposed to the $18 million requested by the university. This money goes toward basic classroom and building renovation - like putting new desks and marker boards into classrooms.

While the UA does not normally get all of the money it asks for, this cut in remodeling funds is significant.

Normally, some of the building renewal funding goes toward the classroom renewal project, which began in 1994 and is scheduled to end this year. However, because of the budget cuts, the project has to extend for another year in order to make up for lost funds. As it stands, only the Anthropology building will undergo renovation, and the budget cut will force the UA to come up with some other way of renovating other buildings and classrooms instead of focusing on more academic issues.

We may be getting a new student union and a complex underground labyrinth for freshmen, but most people on campus now will never get to enjoy these buildings. What we get to enjoy are the renovated classrooms, which take less than a semester to remodel. Many of the buildings on campus are old and equipped with desks that are attached to the floor and were obviously made for people half our size. Left-handed people and handicapped students have problems with the old classrooms and will breathe a sigh of relief when they discover their classes are in remodeled rooms.

If there's going to be construction on campus, if we have to put up with caution tape and fences, then we should at least get something out of it.

It seems to be a general trend in budget allocation to under-fund facilities - sometimes buildings aren't renovated until it gets so bad that pieces of the ceiling start falling down. While no one wants to raise tuition any more than necessary, we should take into account what it is we're paying for.

As we move into the next century, our buildings need to make that shift as well; most aren't equipped with the proper phone system to support the Internet and networks. While it is possible to learn in any environment, it's a whole lot easier to learn in a comfortable one.

The university knows this, and UA President Peter Likins said that if the funding is cut, the university will have to look into other options to update classrooms.

But the fact remains that these facilities should be kept up by the Legislature so the UA can use its money elsewhere. Legislators should take a tour of some of the buildings targeted by the classroom renovation project - CCIT, Education, Psychology and Franklin - and then reconsider the budget cut. They owe it to UA students to provide classrooms that don't distract from education.

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