On campus facilities – an untapped resource for the student body at large

Why the administration should lift the barriers between the students and their campus

By Gideon Shrier

Contributing Writer

gshrier1@umbc.edu

Some would say facilities need to be restricted to only a handful of qualified students, but is this really the case?

   Ask anyone what defines UMBC, and you’ll get a smattering of different ideas. It’s a tech school. It’s a STEM school. It’s number one on the list of up-and-coming universities. However, something that some would agree on is that there isn’t much of an on-campus life — owing in part to how closed off the campus is to the majority of the student body.

One of the most extreme restrictions placed on the students is that only music majors can use the soundproof recording rooms. This dramatically limits the potential creative output of this university, silencing the immense talent of our musicians. It is one more way the administration casts doubt on the responsibility of the students — the implication of the policy being that only music majors can be trusted to take care of the equipment.

However, this concern is easily addressed. The administration could simply have people register on a list to use the rooms, and the students would be held accountable for any damages. If they were feeling more cautious, they could have the students submit an application to be reviewed by the musical staff. The policy makers are only hurting themselves by restricting the creative output of the student body.

There are other kinds of facilities that could be opened up, too. Brent Runge, a junior biochemistry major, said, “I think it’s a noble idea to open up the campus to students. I could definitely see it making a lot of sense for the recording studios, but it would be more complicated for lab equipment. It can get very expensive, and something like a lab culture is a major investment of time.”

Giving students access to research labs is difficult for a few reasons. Runge had the idea that there could be introductory labs for some of the major scientific disciplines, like organic chemistry, chemical engineering, or possibly even physics.

Rather than being attached to a class, a student-run lab could provide real hands on experience to students who wouldn’t otherwise get it. Students could pay a small fee to get access and conduct basic experiments under the supervision of experienced undergraduates, who could be compensated for their time with credits or cash.

Jennylyne Reyes, a junior psychology major, said “I definitely think that students would be more motivated to stay on campus if they had more access to the facilities. I know that any band or solo musician would jump at the chance to have a cheaper recording studio available on campus.” She gave voice to a common ideal among students — that their university should be a place to refine and showcase their talents, potentially to a global audience.

There’s no doubt that it’s important to keep recording equipment or scientific materials in good shape. That said, it’s unreasonable to think that grown adults are going to carelessly destroy tools they need to further their own goals. It’s a simple matter of self interest, especially if the students are held accountable for any damages they incur. A university should be a place where students can chase their passions without arbitrary restrictions getting in the way.