As a tour guide, I am fully aware that one of the most important parts of any college tour is the showroom. Knowing what dorm rooms look like on campus can make or break a family’s perception of the school. At The College of Wooster, our showroom is located in Babcock Hall. We are required to point out the dark wood furniture, amenities that students can add to enhance their living experience, as well as the air-conditioning system that we promise will be established in every residence hall in three-to-four years time (according to our ten year plan). To a visiting family, that AC unit is simply a facility that will ease the heat of summer through orientation weekend. For current students, the difference between living in appropriate conditions or living in inhospitable conditions is air conditioning.
Never in my life have I seen a college campus that is not consistently under construction. That is the nature of college: the environment changes with the student body. The College of Wooster is no exception, especially with the new Lowry renovation. I understand why we are renovating the Student Center. It is a central area to student life on campus; however, it almost seems pointless when campus is over capacity and students are being forced into less than ideal living situations. Half of the houses around campus are out of commission right now, the ceilings of Holden are caving in, and Compton has black mold. The fact that instead of solving our growing bat problem — the campus merely put signs in houses and dorm buildings about how to deal with the bats properly — we got a new Student Center says a lot about the priorities of the school. We, as a student body, can live without a renovated Lowry. We cannot be expected to live in spaces that do not pass standard safety checks from year to year.
I pass the Lowry Student Center up to three times a day with different families on tour. One of the first questions that comes out of their mouth is usually in relation to the renovation for which I stand, smile, and speak to how excited I am to have the new space in 2022. I wish my enthusiasm was a little bit more honest, because every time I make a joke about telling dramatic tales of the old Lowry to scared first years, a part of me is always angry that the college’s push to prioritize student life is a grand ole facade.