It has seemed impossible to walk through campus the past few years without seeing tarps flapping in the breeze, sparks flying from welding or yellow CAT vehicles scraping at dirt. And with new projects about to begin, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for construction on campus.
FSU community members seem to have strong opinions for or against these campus-building projects, and the disruptive construction that is necessary for their completion. Some students and faculty believe the noisy construction that wakes residents up early in the morning, makes it hard to hear in class and creates difficulties navigating campus is more harmful and disruptive to daily life than it is worth. Some students are bothered that they have to deal with the construction but will not be able to enjoy the end results because they will graduate before the projects are finished.
Others are excited about the idea of more space for parking, more options for dorm living and more scientific and technological resources, among other initiatives.
So it seems, in theory, the ends justify the inconvenient means. But the question remains: what exactly are the ends?
A new dorm building will be built on Maynard lot, which will take up 140 of those parking spots. The new parking lot set to be built on the Salem End Road site will create 246 spots, increasing available parking on campus by 106 spaces, when taking into account the spots being lost with the building of the new dorm.
That new building will house 316 beds. But when these rooms become available, O’Connor Hall will become an academic building for offices. That means there’s only a net gain of 75 beds.
With the tens of millions of dollars spent on these on-campus projects, are these gains, when also considering the losses, worth it?
We at The Gatepost believe that if the school is trying to accommodate the growing number of students, 75 beds and 106 parking spots just won’t cut it.
But FSU’s location, with the surrounding area being so developed and residential, doesn’t allow for significant expansion in any particular direction. So this leaves administrators with two options: continue to renovate, recycle and repurpose existing structures, or begin to reach further out into the town of Framingham.
The first option, which is what the school has been doing, won’t be viable for much longer, and would only perpetuate the same set of issues already laid out. On the other hand, the second option allows for nearly limitless expansion, extending the overall span of our university beyond our current neat, compact little community. If this style of growth were to occur, Framingham may be turned into a full-fledged college town, reminiscent of countless others across the nation. This may even bring new vitality to the town itself.
It may seem at first glance as if students wouldn’t want to live, study and socialize away from the convenience of our 73-acre campus. Some may feel as if being away from the nucleus of campus would isolate them from their peers, or that growing outward would dissipate the tight-knit community that we so value.
However, expanding campus outward would not disconnect FSU from itself. Rather, it would make deeper and more meaningful connections with its hometown, while alleviating the financial and practical strain on our almost-overbuilt campus.
The Gatepost has been advocating for FSU’s expansion into the surrounding community for years, and with the current construction projects’ final results becoming increasingly underwhelming, especially considering the exorbitant costs, we need to be looking for more productive alternatives.
We know they’re there, so why aren’t we using them?