University funds should be spent on students, not buildings

Capital funds don’t come along easily, so when they do, they better be spent on something worthwhile. A $86.4 million wellness center—or a campus extension in Hunter’s Point—may be nice to have, but there are more pressing matters to resolve first with such constrained funds.

SF State, your eyes are bigger than your pocketbook. They bulge out past everyday needs to gain bragging rights and ogle aesthetics.

Sure, that expensive cherry wood cabinet could be useful and would make the entrance hall look sleek, but is it worth it when the leaky kitchen sink goes several more months without attention, risking a mold infestation?

Several campus buildings date back to the 1950s and need immediate attention, but the newest addition of the wellness center is just another non-academic building and a glorified replica of the Gymnasium, which unveiled its own $2.1 million renovation in September.

For the governor’s latest budget, the California State University and University of California systems proposed additional funding toward a backlog of necessary repairs to old buildings, but revenue from state property taxes did not cross the threshold needed for Gov. Jerry Brown to keep the measure.

As a result of the lack of funding for repairs, the Science Building meltdown hit the University with a $3.83 million remediation bill. For safety reasons, the campus community still isn’t comfortable operating there and does not consider it sufficient for science classes.

President Leslie E. Wong is now considering a new state-of-the-art Science Building, but with what money will he construct this? University funds will likely contribute to the project, even if it is primarily funded by private investors.

A $10 million gift elated the University enough to name the Mashouf Wellness Center after the donor, SF State alumnus and founder of retail company Bebe, and outshined the mandatory $90 recreation and wellness center fee that students are hit with.

That fee every SF State student pays each semester is asking a lot when stacked against all other costs. It’s that last textbook we can’t afford, a couple weeks of groceries or a month of riding Muni to get to campus.

We can’t even get a transit pass for a so-called commuter school. Student fees would be better invested in such a pass that would reach more of the student body.

The list of grievances goes on and on. Our 2007 Master Plan, which includes the wellness center, is full of conceptual designs and wistful imaginations of a future full of ‘improvements’ that SF State does not need.

Projects like the upcoming wellness center and the flirtation with a Hunters Point campus extension only help eyes roll when SF State tells us “we don’t have the money.”

Our ears may listen sympathetically, but we see something different.  We see money put toward the kind of changes administration wants, but not the ones we need.