Students question expenditures for campus beautification project

There are 12 of these umbrellas across campus, amounting to an overall cost of $62,400 for the college.

By  QIAOCHU WANG
[email protected]

To the dismay of some current students, Allegheny has been spending its earnings to give the college a facelift in order to attract prospective students.

While many educational institutions are troubled by spending cuts, Allegheny has seen steady enrollment increases since 2006 and a tuition revenue of $67 million in the fiscal year of 2009.

The school recently spent as much as $1.5 million on a construction projects including landscaping, trees, brick walkways, lighting, drainage and projects like renovating the Caflisch parking lot, said Assistant Director of Physical Plant Brian Gillette.

A portion of that total budget included spending around $2,000 apiece for 12 bright yellow steel umbrella sets placed across campus, amounting to a total of $62,400. Larry Lee, vice president of finance and planning, said the $1.5 million were remaining from the $17 million in loans taken out for the construction of North Village II.

“The campus is not as beautiful as we wanted it to be, especially the area where the new Admissions Office is located,” said Lee. “One of the main objectives of the project, therefore, is to beautify that area. It is a form of marketing.”

Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Laura Jacobs said the campus has always been beautiful, and the construction keeps up the nice appearance.

“I do not see a direct correlation between the Horseshoe Project [referring to construction around Quigley Hall] and Admissions but new construction is always a sign that displays an institution’s financial stability,” she said.

Gillette agreed that construction is important for displaying the institution’s financial stability.

“When the college moves towards any type of expenditure, they always keep that in mind,” she said.

Although officials believe new construction is important, some students would rather see money spent elsewhere.

Because it was not part of the same budget, the leftover money couldn’t have been used to buy books for the library or offer multiple scholarships to students with financial need, or things other than the yellow umbrellas.

Marin Ping, ’11, scouring the Pelletier library for books on post-consolidation democratic theory for her senior project, found no recent titles had been purchased.

“The books available are not sufficient for up-to-date research,” Ping said. “Why can’t the school use the money to buy more books instead of spending it on sidewalks and benches?”

Some students, like Jasper Harris, ’11, understand the college’s good intentions, but don’t see the practicality in the umbrellas.

“The yellow umbrella sets are a good idea theoretically,” said Harris. “But it is too cold to sit outside in the shade.”

A survey conducted by The Campus found that 40 percent of the 100 respondents disliked the new yellow umbrella sets, and estimated the price to be much lower than the actual price for each unit.

“When I heard that the school spent more than $60,000 on those umbrellas, I was troubled by the college’s priorities,” Ping said.

Others, students and professors alike, are concerned that historical or even new buildings on campus could use renovations or maintenance work.

“We are running out of space for students and faculty here in the Economics Department,” said Don Goldstein, professor of economics. “The classrooms also badly need some renovation, not to mention the floors, walls, bathrooms and lightings in Quigley. We also need a lounge type of space for students to do work.”

Sydney Nick, ’11, thinks the school should put some outdoor lamp posts outside of North Village I.

“I fell the other day because it was so dark outside and it is only getting worse because of the snow,” Nick said.