Aesthetic improvements cause decline in campus quality


Last week, DePauw students received an email from President Casey, which announced the plans to improve DePauw's athletic facilities. Even though I am a sophomore and my time at DePauw may be finished when the new Lilly Center opens, I am still very excited. Finally, a concrete plan to improve student life has been implemented.

Months ago, as part of the DePauw 2020 plan, the university discussed renovating the campus's beauty by creating a welcome way directing to East College. It is currently being constructed on Anderson Street. The plan also includes building a newer bigger dining hall where students could supposedly come to eat and share ideas.

I am not against the new master plan. But the focus of the plan, in my opinion, is too much on the cover instead of the quality of the book, so to speak. The highlight of the plan is not to improve our academic environment or professional opportunities for students. Instead, what have been discussed is the new university entrance that leads to East College, and a new bigger dining hall.

A bigger dining hall is great, but at the moment a large part of upperclassmen have lunch and dinner at their greek house instead of the Hub. A huge reason for people not to go to the Hub: the food is not as good as The Den, The Duck or any greek house on campus. The food is not bad, but students often get tired of having the same food every week.

Instead of building a bigger more beautiful dining hall with (supposedly) the same roster of food, why not spend money to improve the quality and variety of the food? Almost anyone could agree that with the same price we pay, we could get a much better meal at a restaurant outside campus.

Students are excited about the new plan to improve Lilly Center and other athletic facilities because this plan impacts our lives directly. Instead of focusing on how the campus looks, I would really want to see more improvements on what really matters to current students, such as research opportunities, 24/7 study options and residence hall renovation.

Above all, an often overlooked consequence of campus renovation is rising tuition and decreasing financial aid awards. Since my time at DePauw, I have seen a tuition increase of over $2,000. Room and board has also increased.

As DePauw needs the money for the master plan, the cost of education will rise and use less money from endowment will be attributed to financial aid. Current and prospective students will have a huge financial burden, and some may already work 20 hours a week to pay their bills. Also, the education will be less affordable to a lot of prospective students, and it raises the question whether DePauw can keep its level of diversity if certain students can't afford the tuition price ticket.

Making money is hard, but spending money is harder. As the university claims, renovation can help DePauw enter the upper rank of liberal art college. At the same time, however, if done incorrectly, the renovation plan could mark our decline.

- Nguyen is a sophomore from Hanoi, Vietnam majoring in computer science.