Three years ago, I set foot on Tech’s campus as a freshman. Back when there were other options for a late-night meal on campus besides Chicken Minis. Back when students could walk through campus without dodging caution tape and construction zones. Back when getting a parking tag wasn’t a three-hour process and checking a P.O. Box didn’t require standing in line. Before all of these “improvements” to our campus were made, Tech was an entirely different school.
Before jumping to any conclusions and labeling me as “just some other person who has to find something to complain about,” hear me out. I’m not someone who is scared of change. Not at all. I embrace change. What’s life without change? Without improvement? It’s stagnant, and a society that’s stagnant is a dying society. Change is a part of life, and some might even argue that change is life. But at the same time, life is a marathon, not a sprint.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know all the reasons that many services around campus have been outsourced or the details of the Flight Plan budget, but I can see the big picture. I can see that Tennessee Tech has turned into a big construction site. I can see students getting frustrated because they are wasting time standing around in unnecessary lines. And I can see that, overall, Tech is on a gradual, downward spiral – for the time being.
I’ll admit, once all of the renovations are complete, and we, as students, get our campus back, it’ll look better. Nice, even. But when will that be? And why did Tech’s advisory board agree to take all of this on at once? Contractors have been working on our campus for 16 consecutive months now, and there still doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Once Centennial Plaza finally reopened, it immediately becomes shrouded in yellow tape. After cleaning up the campus following last year’s Snowpocalypse, a dense jungle of shrubbery pops up beside Derryberry. When one sidewalk gets repaired enough to walk on, another gets torn up. And there are more projects that haven’t even started yet, like the remodeling of the University Center’s Multipurpose Room and updating the remaining residential halls.
I’ve accepted the fact that a lot of people won’t agree with me, arguing that Tech needed this massive facelift. To their point, I’m not saying that these renovations were in vain. All I’m asking is why did everything seem to happen at once? Yes, it’s Tech’s centennial year, but thanks to all of this remodeling, our 100th year will be remembered as a year of disruption rather than a year of celebration. Wouldn’t it make sense to spread this construction out over the years leading up to this monumental occasion? And that’s just the construction side of things.
Apart from the shovels and heavy machinery, there are many other facets on our campus that have accompanied this renovation, and sadly, I can think of just as many negatives as I can positives. The new cafeteria looks amazing, but students can no longer use excess meal plans to purchase snacks at the front counter. Chick-fil-A now serves breakfast, but the restaurants in The Perch have closed their doors. The iCube exhibit on the third floor of the library is innovative, but I don’t think it’s worth half of the second floor being sectioned off for tutoring purposes. The post office sends out emails now whenever we get mail, but getting that mail, even if it’s a simple envelope, requires standing in a line to have someone else check our mailbox for us.
It’s nice that Tech’s authorities are trying to enhance our campus, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to make the pros outweigh the cons. As an upperclassman who has seen Tech’s transformation firsthand, I want to apologize to the new students. I’m sorry that you didn’t get the chance to see and experience the old Tech. However, for your sake, and the sake of all incoming freshmen over the next few years, I hope that you can accept all these changes, no matter how disappointing they may be, and learn to make the best of them. And with any luck, you’ll get to experience a nice, peaceful campus, as I was able to three years ago, before you graduate.