Two years ago, the $168 million referendum was passed to renovate and create new spaces for the college to appeal to both the eye and create a better learning environment.
The focus of that campaign was a grass roots effort as the faculty, staff and community members joined together to educate voters about the referendum.
Initially, President Robert Breuder himself went on a Listening Tour to find out if the referendum would even have legs in an election and to see if it had voter support.
As it turned out, 55 percent of the voters agreed.
Now, unfortunately, it seems that the initial spark to communicate with the public has been diminished.
At the September meeting, the board of trustees approved spending between $175,000 and $250,000 on a 29 foot bronze sculpture to be funded with money from that referendum.
The support of the voting base was there because of the promise that the referendum would help out the community by bettering the educational environment at the college through improved facilities.
Almost exclusively throughout the verbatim wording from the referendum, explicit details about buildings are given including granting the college the rights to renovate, build and alter.
Indications of a parking structure are also included in the referendum, only to be all but shot down shortly after due to high costs, however, there is no mention of any statues, waterfalls or other beautification projects anywhere in the text of the referendum.
Many of the projects and renovations are helping out the campus immensely, but a quarter of a million dollars on a statue is ridiculous.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small fraction of the budget, but that doesn’t make the situation any better.
When the voters went to the polls, they were voting on the Homeland Education Center being built, new roofs for the Physical Education building and the McAninch Arts Center and library renovations, not statues and waterfalls.
The faculty recently talked to the Daily Herald discussing the efficiency and effectiveness of money spent in regards to the high landscaping costs and focus on increasing the curb appeal of the college.
Breuder has said many times that curb appeal is important, and that the first few moments on campus are the deciding factor for most students, but the focus needs to be on education because while the flowers might bring the students, it’s the teachers that keep them.
Spending money on
frivolous expenditures only takes away from the taxpayer money that could be used for other construction projects, as it was originally allotted for, that would better education not just aesthetics.