On my morning commute to class through the frozen tundra that used to be called East Lansing, I walk past two buildings on the northern edge of campus that could not be more different from one another. To one side of me stands the futuristic Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum known by many for its spaceship-like architecture and on the other side is the eye sore known as the Student Services Building.
For a set of buildings separated only by a few feet of pavement, the contrast truly is striking.
Adorned with faded pale green tiling and old clouded widows, the Student Services Building looks entirely out of place in comparison to the picturesque buildings of north campus and next to the modern design of the art museum. Everything about the building appears worn out, outdated and dull.
Although the aesthetic appeal of the Student Services Building says nothing about the quality of the people who work there, the lackluster appearance of such an important building reflects poorly on the university’s image.
Call me superficial, but looks matter. Inadequate facilities do not signal the elite environment MSU attempts to cultivate. Take our football stadium as an example.
Right now, $24.5 million renovations are happening at Spartan Stadium, updating the locker rooms, adding fan amenities and boosting the overall appearance. Head Coach Mark Dantonio has said the purpose of the project is to create a “championship-type venue” that will attract high level recruits to MSU.
Because of their many wins recently, the Spartan football program wants to show the world that they are committed to building a first-rate atmosphere. That kind of undertaking requires an extensive investment in facilities. By giving the stadium a facelift, MSU is signaling that they are serious about competing with the big boys of college football.
I am not criticizing this investment into our football program. I also recognize that the current project was not funded with tuition dollars. But I wish we saw the same commitment to building top-notch, student-orientated facilities similar to those we see built for athletic events.
The average student will never set foot in a Spartan locker room, but many will benefit from the resources provided at the Student Services Building. We pay huge sums of money to attend this school and it seems almost insulting that building given a like name Student Services seems so overlooked and out of style.
Instead of hiding it from view with a glitzy art museum, the MSU administration should give this facility the attention it deserves.
Such an investment would demonstrate a commitment to developing a championship campus environment and could help attract more bright and talented students to MSU.
I am not ignorant to the fact that money is tight. There are probably a dozen or so buildings on campus that could use some refurbishing. With a constricted budget, questions of what projects to undertake become a matter of priorities. But I ask you, is another cafeteria renovation really worth more than investing in a facility that houses so many valuable student resources for both on- and off-campus students?
The image projected by the current state of the of the Student Services Building is not welcoming. There is a bureaucratic coldness to its appearance that runs counter to the dynamic and vibrant environment for which MSU should be known.
The building and its services shouldn’t be an afterthought. But right now, it seems like they are. Just like the football program, MSU needs to demonstrate a commitment to excellence. This process should start with showing the Student Services Building the TLC it so desperately needs.
Alex Dardas is a journalism and international relations junior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.