January 9, 2010 - 9:48 PM
A new building opened up on campus this week.
I hate it.
Maybe I don't hate the building; I think I might just hate what it stands for. On second thought, I hate the actual building too. It feels like an eyesore standing next to the main entrance to campus, designed with architecture that mismatches everything around it. It doesn't feel like campus. It doesn't feel like it is a part of the University of Oregon.
But then, of course it doesn't feel like a part of the UO to me. It isn't for me. It is for the student athletes at the University of Oregon. There are groups protesting the new building that are larger in size than the population of the University that the John E Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes actually serves. That's disappointing.
I think it is wonderful we have donors like Phil and Penny Knight who will donate such generous gifts to the University of Oregon. It makes me proud that people are willing to give back to the UO since this is a place that means so much to me. I think the pictures of Phil and Penny in the restrooms of the new facility might be a bit much, but hey, if you give that much to a cause, I suppose you can have your picture wherever you want to put it. On a personal note, if I ever have a job where I experience an income that allows me to donate back to the University of Oregon, I surely will. But I can't say I plan to put a likeness of my portrait in the men's restroom.
I think it is wonderful we have a new state-of-the art facility for student athletes at the UO to go seek academic counseling. It makes me proud to know the Ducks I support on the basketball court or on the football field are working hard to excel at something other than athletics. A number of my friends are student athletes at the UO.
But no matter how I look at the issue, I cannot find justification for developing the East 13th and Agate area the way it has. The John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes should have been developed at an alternative location. Simply put - it doesn't belong there. The building itself is a testament to that; it looks as out of place as it is.
The University of Oregon is growing. There are dreams of building new residence halls, new academic facilities. There are plans to develop spaces that will serve a much larger percentage of the UO community than this center for student athletes ever will. But I beg the question now - where are we going to put them? By constructing the new student athlete academic center and the new Matthew Knight Arena along the eastern edge of campus, when I look at a map of the University of Oregon now I see limitations. I see edges. I see borders and barriers halting the University from expanding outward any more. I'm curious, where are the new buildings that are ‘for the rest of us' actually going to go. Are they going to be so far away from the main campus, the general student population may need vehicle transportation to get there?
If that were the case, that would really be to bad. Parking is an issue at the UO. And I believe for good reasons. There are few reasons that a student should actually need parking on the UO campus. The main campus is designed to be accessible and public transportation is so great in Eugene I find most people who drive to school are generally just lazy. They think they need to drive to campus.
However, with the opening of the new student athlete academic center, there are even less parking spaces for ‘the rest of us.' An agreement with the gift that allowed the building's construction limits the distance student athletes have to walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the building. While the new parking structure with the Matthew Knight arena awaits completion, student athletes have taken over other lots on campus that used to serve other students and faculty. Student Athletes have been quoted saying they need those parking spaces. They have to be able to get to their tutor on time. ‘If they miss a tutor they miss practice.' I'm sorry. I can't find room to sympathize. Some students at the UO, with much more legitimate reasons for ‘needing' to drive to campus also need to make it to their class on time, or to work on time. For some students if they can't make it to their student-job on time, they can't pay their rent for the month. Access to campus should not be a privilege awarded only to athletes.
I hope the University finds a better way to fulfill its mission to ALL students with their development in the future. I hope the University develops a way to open the John E Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes to a higher proportion of the student community. At present a café inside the center is designed to welcome more of the University community. Sorry but, I don't even like coffee. And I'm not going to go hang around the café. A piece of prime real estate at the University of Oregon was just wasted for me.