Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Plans to renovate GSU would benefit students, but we’d like better housing first

Boston University Student Government discussed BU’s plans to renovate the George Sherman Union at their meeting Monday night, detailing a project that would open up space in the food court and update ordering systems to include tablets, among other improvements.

But, this is an extremely misguided use of the thousands of dollars likely flowing into the project.

Complaints about BU financial management are starting to get old, but so is the careless spending of our money on projects that don’t address students’ needs.

The university deserves some credit for this change, as it is much more student-oriented than other renovations the administration has invested in. Our point is that if they are going to take the time to address student issues, there are other more pressing situations that should take priority.

Some dorms are, quite literally, falling apart, especially those whose residents aren’t paying hefty prices for nicer setups, which is apparently the price you have to pay for a well-kept living space.

By continuously pouring money into cosmetic projects that coincidentally fall on the BU Admissions Tour path, meanwhile the ceilings of some residences are crumbling, administration is sending the same message to students it has been for years: we don’t care.

Attracting new students and making BU enticing to prospective Terriers is clearly more important than actually improving the conditions current students live in. The university has scrambled to find new ways to get more applicants and drive our acceptance rate down, which has for the most part been successful.

But it is time to reconsider priorities when the interest of prospective students takes more of BU’s money and effort than improving and maintaining the well-being of those students once they actually arrive.

Mugar Library, which is literally connected to the GSU, is one of the buildings on campus most in need of an update. The drab tables and cubicles among dusty rows of bookshelves, all washed over by dim lighting, grow more and more unbearable with every passing exam season.

Instead, BU is choosing to spend its money making the GSU more “open” and convenient for students to spend even more of their money. 

It is a very inefficient system as is, with long and winding lines to order and check out during peak meal times and limited seating at pretty much any time of day. So, these renovations could improve the experience in the GSU greatly. But as mentioned before, an update to the student union before more important renovations such as in housing units is unfortunate. 

The GSU is only truly available to students that are able to afford blowing through their dining points or spending their own money at the food court. Most students have dining plans, but not all that do can rely on points, which are notorious for depleting quickly, more than swipes.

BU’s argument that opening up the space would increase efficiency may be legitimate and one day useful for some of the student body, according to a presentation given by the Director of Dining Services Joseph LaChance at the SG meeting Monday. But it should not be overlooked that the renovations would likely also increase the school’s business.

These opinions apply to just about any costly project BU has embarked on in recent years. Whether its a facelift for the College of Fine Arts building or new Data Sciences Center, a  current work in progress, BU has spent plenty of time and money on making the campus more attractive, not more functional. Many of the spaces in these buildings are unavailable to students depending on their major or college.

Instead, these funds should be poured into programs that would help students, both present and future, in more ways than a shiny new building would. 

There are plenty of other improvements BU can make that have nothing to do with renovating buildings that would still greatly benefit the student body. Student Health Services could always use extra funding and staff to support students, among other important services.

Student Government might have had discussions on these renovations, but they have little say in what projects are or are not initiated by the university. Until administration starts listening to what students need improved first and foremost, their well-intentioned efforts in the GSU are not enough.

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