Opinion

Andersen: Now is the right time for University construction



Okay, I’m making the leap. I’m taking a hard, heavy stance on a topic that has been pestering students since our campus was riddled with sky-covering cranes and a never-ending supply of construction workers.

My name is Branden Andersen, and I support campus expansion.

Before you grab the torch and pitchforks, let me explain myself. I was able to sit down recently with University Vice President for Student Affairs Robin [email protected]@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=staff&d=person&b=name&s=Robin+Holmes@@ to discuss exactly what is going on with campus. Obviously, the Global Scholars Hall is beginning to take over east campus and talks of EMU renovation are circulating. Buildings around campus are going up and being renovated with the regularity and popularity of vampire-themed movies. As students, we’re directly impacted by construction on campus: Our paths are rerouted, our classes are disturbed and our school’s aesthetic value drops dramatically as it’s covered by exposed buildings and chain-link fences. Every student looking at the facts would say “Stop the construction.” It’s inconvenient, it’s ugly and it seems unnecessary. Only a couple buildings really need it, and those aren’t even being worked on.

But I say wait. Take a look at what’s going on behind the scenes because, let me assure you, there is plenty going [email protected]@Plenty of what?@@ [email protected]@http://vpsa.uoregon.edu/biography@@ brought up possibly the best point I’ve heard about campus expansion thus far: The fact that we can grow and expand shows that we are thriving as a university and will continue to thrive. Building new facilities will continue to bring in accomplished students from all across the country and in turn will boost the prestige of the university.

And honestly, if you think about it, now is the time to build.

“Unfortunately with the economy being in such a tail-spin, it’s better now than any other time for us to build,” Holmes said. “It was anticipated that we would need $75 million for the east campus residence halls. Right now, it looks like we’ll only need $68 million. That’s a huge saving. So the sooner we get out into the dirt, the better.”

The $7 million cut is because work is so hard to get for construction companies. The university bids out their building contracts to contractors from all around the state, recruiting the best of the best for work. Not only is the university getting the best contractors, but they are getting them at a cheaper price. Think about it: Construction companies are looking far and wide for work. If a university needs a company to build a new state-of-the-art residence hall or multimillion-dollar academic facility, the best contractors are going to do everything they can to outbid their competitors and secure a job for the next year. Next thing you know, the university has saved millions of dollars on a project they over-budgeted for.

The longer we sit and wait around, the longer our buildings and campus as a whole will be stuck in this weird middle ground between bricks and metal. The economy will (hopefully) turn around in the next ten years, making construction companies and land way more expensive. Contractors will cost more money, bids will follow suit and before we know it, the University housing department’s funds will be dry, and we’ll be stuck with a campus that screams “We’ve made a huge mistake.”

Although nothing is quite official yet, there are plenty of new projects in the works. We’re talking new dorms, renovated academic facilities and expanded student amenities. Holmes told me that there are big plans in the works as the Division of Student Affairs looks toward the future.

“If we need those facilities, then I get those facilities to move forward,” Holmes said. “I assure you that we have lots and lots of plans and strong intention to build the amount of residence halls and spaces that we need for our growing student body.”

Ask me and I’ll tell you that there’s only one way to successfully climb out of the construction era, and that’s to keep building.

As the old saying goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money. Administrators understand that fact and realize that the University has to make the necessary moves in order to maintain its current stance in the national academic spotlight. Our university is currently thriving, despite the economic downturn we’ve been lucky enough to experience. There’s no reason to stifle our recent success by opposing growth. We can’t fight it anymore — we are simply not a small school. If we want to continue to have the success we have had for the past couple of years, we have to keep pushing on. Eugene will always give the university a small-town feeling even if the campus has big-time facilities.

Just look around. The time is right — let’s get it while the gettin’s good.


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