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UW should invest in long-term professors, student success, not shiny new SERF

Investing in professors, campus buildings, students should far outweigh recreational facilities

· Apr 10, 2017 Tweet

Design renderings of proposed renovations to the SERF, including additional cardio space, new multipurpose rooms, an indoor track, new courts and a dedicated spin studio.

For many University of Wisconsin students, the newly announced $236 million renovation to the university’s Southeast Recreational Facility comes as a welcome addition to campus. This increase in gym facility quality is a direct and tangible improvement to UW students’ lives.

One can understand why administration would pursue this surface improvement to campus as the UW System deals with declining enrollment. Flashy new recreational sports facilities provide an easy bone to wave in prospective students’ faces.

Board of Regents approves additional $9 million for SERF reconstructionThe University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted to approve the reconstruction of the Southeast Recreational Facility, adding $9 million to Read…

Though I understand the incentives for this type of resource, I reject the premise this expenditure represents a good investment for the university. Aside from the fact expensive recreational centers merely reallocate financial resources from nonactive students to active students, the university should have found different ways to spend this available capital given current financial constraints.

That money could have formed the basis for constructing a new humanities or psychology building. But frankly, I feel the money could be better spent creating a program that would provide a pay raise for professors in an attempt to attract and retain the best talent. Funding a program to subsidize students’ textbook purchases to make school slightly less expensive would be another good option. Simply giving that money back to students in the form of a tuition reduction would also make a positive difference.

Any of these options would have significantly benefitted UW students more than a nicer treadmill to run on. Foolish expenditures like these play a large role in the exploding cost of attending a university. Every university finds itself in an arms race with every other school, trying to build the newest, flashiest facilities for prospective students to goggle at on tours.

New SERF plans clear city committeeThe Joint Southeast Campus Area Committee approved the new Southeast Recreational Facility plan Monday evening, advancing it to the Plan Read…

These universities fail to realize that when it comes to deciding where you want to attend college, the cost of tuition and academic rankings of the university far outweigh shiny but ultimately useless amenities like a new gymnasium or cafeteria.

This type of investment seems especially misplaced given administration has spent the past two years bemoaning budget cuts that have forced the university to pinch pennies. Though I vehemently disagree with his decision, I have a hard time blaming Gov. Scott Walker for looking at this type of ill-advised investment and concluding maybe the university could get by with a little less help from the state.

I am 100 percent in favor of increasing spending on education, but only if that increased spending funnels directly into the classroom. This investment embodies everything education critics love to point out in terms of wasteful spending.

Rec Sports renovation plans will make SERF look less like ‘a dungeon’University of Wisconsin’s Division of Recreational Sports is moving on to the next stage of its renovations of the Natatorium and Read…

I’m not opposed to the university spending any money on recreational sports facilities, but to spend $236 million in the immediate aftermath of substantial budget cuts represents frivolous and irresponsible financial management on the part of the university.

In times of financial hardship a typical family will reduce its level of expenditure on non-necessary items and I believe UW should do the same.

Connor Allen ([email protected]is a junior majoring in history and economics.


This article was published Apr 10, 2017 at 9:59 pm and last updated Apr 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm


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