It has only been a day since Boston University officials announced that BU’s Sargent Center for Outdoor Education will be shut down this summer after 77 years, but some students are already up in arms.’ This decision may have been made with students’ financial and academic interests in mind, but it is a shame that BU is losing a retreat space that so many have treasured over the years.
BU is not the only university looking to cut costs by eliminating certain extra-curricular activities. Brandeis University, also facing a budget deficit, just announced that its famous Rose Art Museum will be closed, and its distinguished works of art will be auctioned off.’ Both of these losses are not only disappointing to students, but affect the rest of the community that has taken advantage of these cultural experiences.
Although BU must be doing everything it can to prevent cuts that will affect BU’s academic integrity, students will miss the unique opportunities that the SCOE has provided to many generations of students since 1932.’ Given that BU students live on such an urban campus, the chance to retreat to a pristine New Hampshire location for an affordable price is invaluable.’
Up until now, the actions that BU has taken to combat its financial problems have included a re-organization of BU services and the announcement of impending staff layoffs.’ Those changes are not all that noticeable to students, but the harsh reality of these challenging economic times is that a number of decisions will have a directly negative effect on some of them.’
Students who feel strongly enough about the impending loss of the SCOE should speak up.’ This generation of BU students has been characterized as apathetic, but now they are presented with a chance to reverse this reputation.’ Holding protests, signing petitions or getting the Student Union involved might just get BU to reconsider its actions.
It was known from the start that a $10 million budget gap would require sacrifice on everyone’s part. But if BU is financially stable a few years from now, administrative officials may look back and wonder, ‘Was it really necessary to ax a facility to which’ so many have become attached?” Hopefully, BU will consider downsizing the 700-acre retreat or other cost-cutting measures before taking the drastic step of closing the camp entirely. There may not be any noticeable academic benefits to be acquired from the SCOE, but sometimes the lessons learned outside the classroom are just as important.