Alumni donations should meet students' basic needs

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The rate at which new construction projects are being started on our campus can, at times, be staggering. These building renovations and capital projects have made an overwhelmingly positive impact on campus life, improving everything from general aesthetics to the classroom learning environment. However, far too often, the projects that are undertaken benefit only a small percentage of the Occidental community, while more pressing issues fall by the wayside.

The recent renovation of Johnson Hall brought high-tech classrooms to the building, as well as modern additions such as Choi Auditorium and the multi-media wall. This is a great improvement for departments that make their home in Johnson, such as philosophy, politics and Diplomacy and World Affairs.

At the same time, there are classes forced to work in environments that fail to meet the basic needs of the students. On a daily basis, students in less endowed programs, such as sociology, Critical Theory and Social Justice and Art History and Visual Arts, are forced to drag in chairs from other classrooms and sit in back corners in order to find space. Buildings such as Weingart and the Norris Chemistry Hall are severely out-of-date.

When the student body grew and a new residence hall was needed, the addition of Rangeview Hall (now Berkus Hall) in 2008 was the perfect addition. But while Berkus Hall boasts individual bathrooms and air-conditioned suites, the utility of Braun’s bathrooms and hallways remains below par and the lack of any air conditioning in multiple dormitories creates unbearable living conditions.

It is understandable that alumni want to donate to the departments, clubs and teams they were involved in during their college years, and this positively adds to the experiences of the people who get a chance to participate in these programs. But a concerted effort should be made to reach out for donations that go toward meeting the basic needs of the student body across the board. Making potential donors aware of the inadequacies in learning environments and the real health concerns that are raised by subpar living conditions is the first step in making the holistic overhauls that are needed.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of The Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental community.

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