The student experience is at the center of our mission at South Puget Sound Community College. Our own website states “student-centered education” as one of our values.
“We facilitate student success by maximizing learning opportunities and reducing barriers. We provide resources to support students in achieving their goals.”
“Resources” can have different meanings. Some argue that it applies to the basic necessities of college life and education, like access to the Internet, books, and school supplies. In this limited sense, students have plenty of resources for their educational experience. A functioning library with high-speed Internet, reference resources and study space provide students with everything they need.
On the other hand, “resources” also include the environment, the experience, and all of the factors which provide students with motivation and a positive and exciting time in college. The bare skeleton of college life is adequate for any student, but the flesh that surrounds that skeleton is what creates the truly transformational period in our lives.
Think about the difference in the individual student experience between having a class in building 35 – with it’s interesting design, eco-friendly features, and unique decorum – and dark, smelly, noisy, old building 22. Both buildings provide chairs and desks for students, but the feel and experience makes a huge difference to students.
As it stands now, building 22 is wasted space. Decrepit and mostly vacated, it serves this campus very little purpose other than reminding students of the time. If the option exists to renovate the structure and use it for a new library, chock full of space and resources for students, we should take it. This is an opportunity to take a part of our campus and improve it, resulting in a useful, exciting, facility of which we can be proud.
This is no small undertaking, to be sure. Also, it is by no means a cheap project. Months of construction and millions of dollars would go into the project, and our current fiscal situation statewide makes that hard to swallow. Finances aside, however, it is important for a college to provide a good environment that fosters learning and a healthy college experience.
For those who take the budget more seriously, consider the fact that money for the project is allocated specifically for the building and maintenance of facilities, and does not come directly out of the college’s operating budget. Using state money for the project would not, therefore, affect the number of courses available or the number of teachers on staff.
Though measures of “fiscal austerity” have come into vogue across national politics lately, the idea that eliminating investment in education is the key to prosperity is flawed at best. Putting money towards the education – and educational experience – of tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and more is the best use of our limited money. Building 22 should be renovated; the entire campus will reap the benefits.