TO THE EDITOR:
This letter, written by the members of the Armstrong Student Center Board, all of whom are undergraduate students, is in response to the article "$23 million Armstrong Phase II construction to begin January," by Nick Meyerson on the front page of The Miami Student, Sept. 1, 2015.
As Miami University anticipates breaking ground on the East Wing Expansion of the Armstrong Student Center, we of the Armstrong Student Center Board would like to address some concerns raised in the Sept. 1 Miami Student article, "$23 million Armstrong Phase II construction to begin January."
The East Wing Expansion of Armstrong is a completion of the original construction project. The way Armstrong was paid for and constructed required construction be split into two discrete phases. Recall, Armstrong is partially comprised of Gaskill and Rowan Halls, connected over what once was a small parking lot between them. The repurposing of existing university buildings in the space found to be the true center of campus was both a cost saving measure and a unique way to construct something both old and new Miami.
Armstrong, when completed as originally planned, will include Culler Hall, as well. However, before the inclusion of Culler, Kreger Hall needed to be renovated and updated to accommodate those moving out of Culler. Moreover, the university has prioritized the renovation of Shideler Hall. After the much-needed renovation of Shideler, whose occupants currently utilize Culler, Culler will be incorporated into the existing portion of Armstrong and the East Wing Expansion will be underway.
Appropriation of funds is a primary concern of a student quoted in the Sept. 1 article.
"When alums donate to their alma mater, they do so in order to continue the improvement of undergraduate education, not for students to go shopping or play video games."
When alumni donate to Miami, they explicitly dictate how their gift is spent. Either donors have been solicited by the university to donate to a certain fund, or they come to Miami with an idea their own. For example, Mike Armstrong ('61) gave the university $15 million expressly to build a new student center.
Further, one could easily argue Armstrong is a direct investment in undergraduate education. It is true that the college campus can play a crucial role in attracting students, and a beautiful, well equipped and ample student center can attract top students on the margin between Miami and another institution, which can enrich the entire student body. Indeed, one could exhaustively argue the benefits of a truly centralized hub of activity containing student organization offices, campus publications, varied dining options, meeting spaces both large and intimate, areas to hang out and relax, the Student Activities suite, the Cultural Lounge (and the Office of Diversity Affairs therein), a theater, a pavilion and soon Career Services and the ASG senate chamber.
If one does not buy that argument, one's issue is, in fact, donor priorities. Moreover, what students perceive as donor priorities may well be university priorities, initiatives through University Advancement, or truly a donor's organic intent. Regardless, Armstrong is a beautiful building open to all students to engage with each other and the university in countless ways. We recommend reading the online version of the Sept. 1 story, which is radically different than the and scrambled and perhaps erroneously laid out story in the print edition, and contains more specific elements to look forward to in the East Wing Expansion.
Armstrong Student Center Board