As many have seen on UConn’s campus recently, and have always seen on campus, there has been construction blossoming all over campus. The sound of drills and the sight of fences have brought many students to think, is all of this really necessary? Does it bring any benefits? And what will it do for the students of UConn over the long run? Let’s take a deeper dive into this…
As many of us know, there has been recent construction on South Campus directly in front of Mirror Lake. A brand new dorm complex is being built there with a 657-bed residence hall and 500-seat dining hall. This residence hall will bring a much-needed relief to the already-overpopulated on-campus living situation. For other students, it will also bring a new dining hall that overlooks the beautiful Mirror Lake, along with a variety of new food options.
The second large construction project was announced recently. With the help of funding from Trisha Bailey, UConn seeks to extensively renovate the Greer Fieldhouse. This is the largest donation in the school’s athletic history, and will help push athletic facilities to new heights. One must also not forget the Student Recreation Center’s renovation a few years ago, which was a $100 million project bringing a state-of –the-art facility straight to the middle of campus. Investment has been booming across UConn in the past 20 years – the list spans from the expansion of the Student Union all the way to the brand-new Science 1 building on the 15-acre parcel of land on North Campus.
All of these improvements and new buildings are of great importance to the university. They serve to draw in greater investments, bring more students here and further develop our school to reach its full potential. Let’s take the Science 1 building as an example. This modern building located right next to the North Parking Garage will have facilities such as a “clean room” to facilitate the most sensitive of experiments and “wet and dry labs” that include state-of-the-art computer technology and classrooms. These all serve not only for the faculty and students have a better place to learn and experiment, but also to make UConn into an even stronger engine for scientific advancement. Developments such as these lead to more money and support flowing into the university along with distinguished faculty — all things that we cannot get enough of.
The perks that these investments bring will benefit more than just the students in the STEM majors that will occupy the building, but will also result in UConn gaining more recognition around the country for furthering its world-class programs.
However, there are many who have brought up points about how these projects could be damaging to UConn’s natural environment. On one hand, this level of construction will unfortunately destroy some green spaces across campus in addition to temporarily increasing pollution with all the general construction going on. On the other hand, the long-term benefits of these short-term costs will reduce the negative environmental impact many times over.
For example, the new South Residence Hall will meet “LEED Gold requirements and Connecticut High Performance Building Standards.” This represents the highest standard of energy efficiency that can currently be achieved. Moreover, this project will also have “geothermal wells” for cooling and heating using the Earth’s natural temperatures. These types of additions are most likely not compatible for many of the aging buildings on campus. By investing in these new additions and creating a blueprint for the future, we will be able to rely less on our crumbling infrastructure and transition to this new eco-friendly style of building. UConn’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and building more of this eco-friendly infrastructure is the way to achieve this.
Many students have also brought up the question of “is the cost of these improvements actually worth it?” Some of the money that is being used for these projects is coming from donations, but a lot of it is also coming from the increasing costs on the student fee bills. For example, the Rec Center is funded by a $500 dollar fee per academic year. In addition, there has been some fear among students that fee bills will continue to rise as these new buildings keep being built. These are all valid concerns that I would think most students share. The way this could be addressed is through requesting more funds from the state of Connecticut, especially from the multibillion-dollar rainy day fund that exists. It can be considered as an investment on behalf of the state in making its flagship university the best it can be. Costs will always be an issue, but students might be able to look at the costs now as an investment in their future as well. As stated before, this new infrastructure will help to further the recognition of UConn, therefore it can be assumed that the value of a UConn degree will increase overtime due to the costs paid now.
Infrastructure is important to our university in so many aspects. There are many valid concerns about this increase in construction, but none that we as a university cannot overcome. These new developments will help push UConn on a path towards becoming an even more renowned and powerful economic and scientific university.