Administrators: fix Clark Hall and give KSL money

The meaning of Spartan life

The end of this semester marks a roughly three-year stretch of Clark Hall’s status as “under construction.” I still don’t understand why there is green scaffolding obscuring the entrances around Clark Hall, but I have a few ideas.

First, administrators (and all those who are in charge of building maintenance at the decision-making level) just don’t care about Clark Hall. After all they did just build a brand-new university center practically next door, not to mention the New Residence Hall being built in the North Residential Village.

Second, older buildings are on the radar of these decision-makers but they are not priorities. The only reason for this is politics, the conflict over scarcity. Money and other resources are scarce, and a new university center and residence halls will bring in more profits and serve as centerpieces for marketing ploys.

Clark Hall and other older buildings are just classrooms, but shouldn’t the upkeep of classrooms be near the top of a priorities list, especially when the problem has persisted as long as it has? By neglecting Clark Hall, administrators are quite possibly saying that students are not the priority here at Case Western Reserve University.

For example if the Tinkham Veale University Center is distinctly not a student center, why is the Office of Faculty Development located in the Thwing, which is considered a student center? My guess is that it’s some political manifestation of a monetary underpinning because let’s face it, money is the only thing that matters at CWRU.

This brings me to my third idea, funding. Is the university lacking in funds to repair Clark Hall? I haven’t asked about this matter because frankly I don’t care what the building needs or how much its repair would cost. If we can afford to construct a university center, a new athletic facility, new dorms, a new think[box] and a new medical building in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic, as well as restore an old temple, can’t we afford to fix Clark Hall?

Fourth idea, humanities are less important than other university pursuits. The CWRU Daily email newsletter’s main story is overwhelmingly dominated by heath, science and technological news. CWRU is a medical and STEM powerhouse, but apparently it doesn’t care about the humanities housed in Clark Hall.

Fifth, to reiterate, CWRU only cares about things that make it money. For example students are getting new dorms because students pay tuition and need a place to stay. The university center was built, and it has already brought a return on investment. The new building to be built in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic benefits the largest budget allocation entity, the CWRU School of Medicine, and allows both partners to pool not just academic but financial resources.

What I find so fascinating is that all this money spent on new buildings and not Clark Hall, but also the fact that other areas of the university are in financial crisis, namely Kelvin Smith Library. Another columnist and I wrote a piece on this last spring, and recently a news story ran outlining the persistence of a poor library.

Do CWRU administrators and financial decision-makers not see the irony? What good do fancy, shiny new buildings matter if scholarship isn’t supported? A novel solution: fix Clark Hall and give the library more money. I’ll be more than happy to attend a donor’s or board of trustees meeting to lobby for funding these things, but I’d like to think our administrators are paid to ensure such essential things are taken care of.

CWRU administrators need to remember that they have jobs because of students. If students have increasingly unsafe classrooms and under-resourced research spaces, then students will leave and a big glass barn won’t do any good.

Jacob Martin is a weekly opinion columnist for the Observer. He’d like to again see Clark Hall without green scaffolding. It has more character than any university center.