Studying in Hodges Library has become a somewhat frustrating task with all of the construction going on. Besides dodging the various pathways designated for construction workers and spending hours hunting down a computer, there's the endless noise of jackhammers that makes it extremely difficult to concentrate on much of anything, let alone print a paper five minutes before class.
Of course, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the library is not the only thing at UT currently undergoing construction. If you have tried to walk from the Hill to Pedestrian Walkway, you have surely found yourself making a long and arduous detour because of the University Center construction site. If you have walked down to TRECS, you have seen the massive new music building that is being built on Volunteer Boulevard. It seems that it has become almost impossible to quickly and easily walk or drive anywhere on campus anymore, and it certainly feels like the construction is never going to end.
The injustice of it all is that I, and many other students currently at UT, will graduate long before most of these beautiful new buildings and projects are completed. We will not be able to use the buildings that our tuition money paid for, nor will we be able to walk through a construction-free campus. The construction projects that have ruined the aesthetics of our campus and that provide us with hours of traffic detours and distracting noise are not ours to enjoy.
Construction on campus is always a double-edged sword. We as students have a difficult time appreciating the fact that these buildings will be of benefit to the university as we watch them cause our tuition to rise. Do we really need a new student center? Is it really worth adding another engineering building? Was the Commons in the library in desperate need of renovation? And do I really have to pay for all of these projects?
It is a rather unfortunate fact of the American university system, but the answer is yes: we do need a new student center, new music and engineering buildings, and better common areas in the library. Whether or not we like to admit it, universities are businesses, and businesses must remain competitive. More and more students are coming to college each year, and in order for UT to continue to attract qualified students, we must provide excellent resources for our students. We already have phenomenal faculty at UT, and our student body is increasing in intelligence and competitiveness each year. As superficial as it may seem, facilities are just as important a resource in recruiting students. Our new music building will provide the kind of space and acoustics for our highly-competitive music program, and for once our musicians will not be stuck in buildings that are falling in on themselves. The new UC will have more meeting space so that more student groups can use the space for its intended purpose — to serve the students.
The traffic, the disruptions, and the noise are hardly desirable, and it is certainly a shame that most of the current students will not get a chance to enjoy the fruits of the construction labor. However, I love my school, and I want to see it grow and improve as the years continue on. I have faith in our faculty and our students, and if UT remaining a competitive university requires me to drive a few more minutes each day and pay a few more dollars each year, I am more than willing to do my part.
— Sarah Russell is a senior in history. She can be reached at email@example.com.