Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Investing in Our (Off) Campus

If you’ve attended Marquette University for the past four years like I have, the positive changes in the appearance of our campus cannot have possibly flown under your radar. The administration of this university and the city of Milwaukee have undertaken several projects, including the construction of Raynor Library, the revamping of Wisconsin Avenue, and other beautification projects that have succeeded in actually making our urban oasis feel like a college campus.

Unfortunately, the repairs and changes have only been made to areas south of Wells Street. And while the off-campus housing north of Wells Street is, after all, off campus, the apathy and disregard shown towards this area by university administration and student government is rather disappointing, given the fact that hundreds of upperclassmen call this neighborhood home.

The Norris Park “project” is one example of this neglect. Remember last year, when several candidates for MUSG Senate seats and various members of the organization announced plans to work with the city to overhaul this space (located in the square block between Kilbourn, State, 18th, and 19th)? Has progress been made? Not that I’ve heard of. Sure, MUSG can blow thousands of dollars on plasma screens for the AMU, pretty new archways, and concerts by B-level music acts (http://www.gop3.com/?p=429), but when it comes to an enhancement that would improve the lives of the student residents of this area while at the same time deterring crime, the issue is summarily dropped. Great.

Additionally, has anyone ever wondered why the university has allowed a 24 hour homeless shelter to continue operations less than a block away from a dorm, and literally yards from off-campus student housing? Funny thing is that I’m doing service learning at Repairers of the Breach on 13th and Vliet, and they said they couldn’t get zoning permission for overnight housing, yet a shelter exactly like that operates just a few feet from our campus. Anyway, my proposal – dip into the endowment, purchase the shelter, raze it, and construct a new dormitory.

The housing crunch is on at Marquette, despite what the administration wants you to believe. Graduate students are being evicted from the Abbotsford to make way for overflowing freshmen and sophomores, and if enrollment continues to increase, there’s no doubt in my mind that O’Donnell’s basement and McCormick’s lounges will be turned back into temporary lodging for the classes of 2010 or 2011. So why wouldn’t the school take this opportunity to remove an eyesore from campus and alleviate their accommodation issues for at least the next decade? The ball’s in their court now.