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Academical construction zone

Where is the University I was promised? I am third-year in the (so I have been told) second-largest department at the University: politics. Three of my 3000-level classes this semester have more than 300 people in them. My professor will never know my name or even recognize my face. My opportunity to discuss ideas with my peers consists of an awkward weekly discussion section in which it is like pulling teeth when the teaching assistant, a graduate student, asks us questions about the readings that only three of us actually completed. I might be more forgiving of this "factory-like" college experience (as one of my professors put it) if the school were serious about budget cuts. But I just do not see it.

The University's mission statement is to "enrich the mind by stimulating and sustaining a spirit of free inquiry directed to understanding the nature of the universe and the role of mankind in it." After three years and hours of inquiry, I think I have figured it out. The "role of mankind" in nature is to build things - lots of things - even if it is impractical and unnecessary to do so.

The University is currently involved in at least eight construction projects: Newcomb Hall, new New Dormitories, the Engineering School, Garrett Hall, the Bookstore, the University Hospital, Ivy Stacks and whatever they are building on Rugby Road. There are probably more, but these come to mind most readily, as I encounter them daily. Even if I did not mind finding new walking routes to almost every building on Grounds, waking up at 7 a.m. every morning as a bulldozer's incessant beeping informs me that it is indeed backing up (these things only ever go in reverse, apparently), or getting caught in traffic behind a caterpillar machine driving at 15 mph on Emmett Street, I do mind that these projects are taking away money that could be used to pay more professors to teach more classes. Twenty-five politics professors are on sabbatical this semester alone. Most wait lists I have seen have twice as many people on them as there are people actually enrolled in the class.

If I am going to see my tuition rise each year, I want to see it put towards my actual learning, not to re-doing the Grounds that is allegedly so beautiful and historic (I am not sure I have ever seen it). I realize it costs money to maintain the function of the University and its Grounds and that we do not want to seem outdated to prospective students, but cannot we achieve this goal one construction zone at a time?

I asked my adviser, as we are sitting in a massive, brand new four-story South Lawn building, why there are so few seminars being offered this semester. She told me there was not enough classroom space available.\n\nLaura Lattimer\nCLAS III