Constructing an argument against all of the construction projects on campus is easy. The country is in a tough economic time and state support for public education has been going the way of the dodo since before we were born. Yes, our tuition is comparatively low, but it still places a large burden on many students.
The proposed renovations for St. George Tucker Hall are projected to cost $11 million, and that’s expensive any way you slice it. The funding provided for the project by the Virginia General Assembly, while nice, is probably money they won’t feel guilty denying us down the road. Until the design work is completed — likely late 2011 — we won’t know exactly what to expect out of the renovations. Besides, this money can always be diverted toward making sure we can keep our tuition down another dollar.
That’s all well and good, but unless you’re in favor of immediately axing everything that’s unprofitable on this campus, you’ll agree that the College of William and Mary’s financial administrators ought to engage in prioritization when they draw up a budget. Well, the most important piece of business is to keep the campus up and running, and Tucker’s renovation is several years overdue on that front — and thank goodness someone kept an eye out for the English department, who had been scattered like seeds while their building was left in limbo. It’s hard to claim that we’re “making do with what we’ve got” when we’ve got an empty academic building awkwardly sitting there.
The College spent a lot of time and energy touting the proposed upgrade a few years ago as “21st century renovations.” I don’t know what century being able to hold classes in a building falls under, but the student body wants to have Tucker back and would be greatly benefitted by its return as an accessible building. It’s been first on the renovation agenda for quite some time now, emblematic of just how deep the economic downturn cut us.
In a way, the money we now have for Tucker is a little bit of closure for this a very dark period in the College’s finances. With the building’s completion, we will no longer be so poor that we have a problem making our buildings habitable. Our economic situation isn’t exactly peaches and cream, and it’s highly likely the next thousand things that could sorely use some financing will simply have to wait, but hopefully we’ll be able to get to the point where procurring money to upgrade facilities that clearly need it isn’t a problem.
The College has a long way to go in that respect, but until we get there, we can be proud of what we’re doing now. So let’s welcome Tucker back to the list of buildings we don’t have to be embarrassed about.