Editorial: Students, Senate need to dream bigger on MPF

By The Beacon | October 31, 2013 2:06am

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$51,000 can do a lot.

It can pay a good chunk of a student’s tuition. It can commission a work of art. It can plan a concert.

According to one productions company, $51,000 can pay for a performance by The Roots, Sara Bareilles or (God forbid) Smash Mouth.

Unfortunately, students and ASUP senators have not been so ambitious. The Major Project Fund (MPF) is $51,000 this year, $30,000 more than most years. ASUP has the opportunity to do something big.

But the top 10 ideas ASUP has chosen to give the MPF to? Vans for Student Activities, repurposing the Buckley Center greenhouse, reestablishing an end-of-the-year event, support for Pilots After Dark, seating outside the library and Terrace Room, lighting for the intramural field, display TVs for the library, bike rack covers, a speed bump and ice machines.

After brainstorming and consulting constituents, ASUP created a list of 74 possible projects to fund, which was narrowed down to these 10 last week. Frankly, the suggestions are underwhelming.

When students look back on their time at UP, will they remember the speed bump their student fee paid for? If a speed bump is crucial to students’ safety, the University should just install one. It shouldn’t take a vote and a decision from the ASUP executive board.

The problem with the MPF ideas is that they don’t think big enough about what ASUP can do with their money. Ice machines are a tiny luxury. More TVs will hardly improve the renovated library. The MPF is students’ opportunity to improve UP, to make it a better institution and a better place to be. Most of these ideas waste that opportunity.

That’s not to say all the ideas are bad. Repurposing the greenhouse outside of Buckley Center into, say, a coffee cart, would be useful and enjoyable for students and faculty. Reestablishing an end-of-the-year event could make poignant memories, depending on how the event was planned.

But the inclusion of minor projects on this top 10 list of major projects shows a lack of imagination and ambition by both Senate and the student body. One of the ideas senators brainstormed was another major concert in addition to Rock the Bluff, but it didn’t make the top 10. Seating outside the Terrace Room — a part of campus few students visit — did make the cut.

After the executive board meets with administrators about the feasibility of each project, they will present their findings at the ASUP meeting this Monday. Senate will narrow down the selection to five possible projects, and the executive board will choose from those five by Wednesday.

So ASUP still could eliminate the least inspiring ideas from the list. To help ASUP prioritize their ideas according to constituent input, fill out their MPF survey, which can be accessed through PilotsUP. And please, vote for the options that will do something meaningful with the $51,000 we’re about to spend.

Because $51,000 can do a lot, and it would be a shame to squander it.

B