Volume 94, Issue 46

Tuesday, November 21, 2000


Editorial Board 2000-2001

SuperBuild could create problems too

Editorial Cartoon

SuperBuild could create problems too

The face of Western's campus is undoubtedly growing, but it seems that its growth is in a limited direction.

Western's SuperBuild Growth Fund initiative will bring three new buildings to campus: the Advanced Technology Centre, the South Valley Building and the North Campus Building. As buildings that will expand faculties like engineering science, applied math and health sciences, the expansion responds solely to the advancement of science-related faculties.

While receiving government money for the creation of new buildings is, of course, favourable to the university, one must question on what basis the plan was approved and the implications it will have.

Perhaps the most apparent problematic notion is that all these new buildings are being built for the sciences, pushing the humanities and social sciences by the wayside and even potentially marginalizing these faculties.

Although expansion in science research merits more modern laboratories, complaints of inadequate facilities for arts-based faculties – like the lack of laserdisc machines, the poor screening rooms and the insufficient number of rooms that facilitate other multi-media for film and MIT students – seem to not be heard.

Furthermore, the addition of these buildings is set for the 2003-2004 academic year as part of Western's answer to the expected doubling of freshman enrollment. Even some professors acknowledge that, while new buildings are good for the university on a large scale, they could problematize the state of first-year "super classes."

Even though the buildings will allow for better space allocation for some faculties and reduce the number of large class sizes, most deans and professors question whether smaller classes will be viable with the state of human resources. That is, there simply aren't enough professors to sustain the numerous smaller-sized classes that the new buildings could allow, and current Western profs aren't ready to take on two or three more sections than what they'd normally teach.

Along with the question of not having enough professors, another issue that needs to be thrown in the financial mix is the operating budgets. Although the government throws in the funds to erect the buildings, there is no sign of aid for the actual running of the buildings like costly deferred maintenance and staffing costs.

So before Western can get super-excited over the SuperBuild project, issues like faculty-favouring, class sizes, human resources and operating costs need to be addressed because the plan isn't merely about the buildings' erections, but ramifications they encompass.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000