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McVey Data Science building: Modern marvel or futuristic facade?

Students navigated the strangely designed building for the first time.
Students navigated the strangely designed building for the first time.

“This looks like a community college from the Marvel cinematic universe.”

That was my first thought upon entering Miami University’s new McVey Data Science building. The new building houses the departments of Emerging Technology in Business and Design (ETBD), statistics, computer science and software engineering.

As I continued to explore, the building only continued to weird me out. The overall aesthetic of McVey is different from Miami’s traditional buildings like McGuffey or Upham, which exude a run-down charm that captures a sense of antiquity. The stark contrast between these two worlds at Miami makes me wonder, what is this for? Or better yet, who is this for? 

The answer isn’t entirely clear but I know this much: It wasn’t made for students.

As a student in ETBD, it seems fairly odd that a building centered around “innovation” and “accessible design” would be so strange to navigate. While not as notoriously confusing as Bachelor Hall, McVey is one of the most unusually structured buildings I’ve ever been in. 

Everything from the stairs to the bizarre classroom placement seems to have been placed with no rhyme or reason. Also, I cannot fathom why the sterile, hospital-esque appearance we’ve seen in the clinical health sciences building is in vogue. Even in the realm of health and science, a space devoid of warmth and character tends to be counterproductive, as it hinders the creative and collaborative aspects that are crucial to each of these fields. 

But perhaps there's a method to this madness. As I soon discovered, McVey isn't just a new building; it's a showcase, a beacon of modernity strategically positioned to impress. Its complex layout may not cater to the needs of students trying to find their way to class, but it certainly serves as an ideal backdrop for college tours.

As Miami continues to face financial strain, with majors being axed and university staff being let go, McVey stands as a symbol of prosperity. The building is a statement to prospective students and their parents that despite any financial hardship, Miami remains at the forefront of innovation and progress. It's a carefully constructed facade designed to entice and reassure, ensuring that the allure of the institution remains at full strength — even in times of uncertainty.

McVey may not be the most student-friendly structure, but it undeniably plays a crucial role in marketing the university to potential attendees. The investment seems aimed at attracting not just students, but also more funding, as the university grapples with the harsh realities of post-COVID budget constraints. 

However, I also believe the university could have used some of this funding ($20 million) in other areas that directly impact student experience. With these funds, Miami could have improved existing facilities, expanded academic resources or enhanced student services. The decision to allocate substantial funds to a structure that prioritizes aesthetic appeal over the more pressing needs of Miami’s community raises questions about the university’s priorities and whether they truly are with students.

By putting this sum toward the new McVey building, Miami is showing its broader strategy. However, that strategy’s success remains uncertain and unproven.

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Camila Lopez-Diaz is a third-year majoring in media and communication with an ETBD minor from Mason, Ohio. They contribute to The Student's opinion section and are actively involved in their studies.