When I first got to NC State, I saw and heard numerous work sites on campus. My dad then told me that the “NC” in “NC State” actually stands for “never-ending construction.” At the time it was just another pun of his, but recently the joke is hitting a little too close to home, as NC State is taking on numerous construction projects, several of which are completely unnecessary.
To understand why many projects are such a bad thing, it's a good idea to take a look at the projects on our campus that do good, because some actually do exist. Currently, these include The Dan Allen Storm Drain Improvement Project, a non-potable water line for Hunt Library and excavation of Cox Hall.
These projects are great for one main reason: They are unarguably necessary. Dan Allen has had several problems in the last year; non-potable water can be used by Hunt library in numerous ways; drainage problems near Cox Hall require the excavation. A lot of the construction taking place on Centennial Campus is likewise needed. These buildings are necessary to conduct research and have an infrastructure for STEM fields. Ultimately, what makes a construction project good is whether NC State actually needs it or not.
Now let's take a look at some of NC State’s other projects and see if any of them meet this one most basic requirement. The D.H. Hill Jr. Library is undergoing renovations that essentially make it more like Hunt. Carmichael Gym is under construction to add a new recreation center after tearing down the old one. Lee and Sullivan Hall are also being torn down with replacement halls being built prior to the demolition. All of these projects are redundant in their own ways.
D.H. Hill Jr. following the model of Hunt library just duplicates a resource students already had, while also eroding the comparative advantage of Hill with its simplicity and space. Carmichael’s construction destroys a past utility for the sake of a new one with marginal improvements at best, hardly warranting the costs and interference with student life. Likewise, both Sullivan and Lee being demolished is ridiculous, as NC State couldn't even house all the freshmen on campus last year, and yet apparently it’s a good idea to tear down and replace university housing. Lee and Sullivan do have frequent elevator problems, it's quite the overkill to replace the buildings.
All of this accumulates to something I don't hear about enough, which is how much this affects the actual experience students are having at NC State. Hill, Carmicheal, Lee and Sullivan are large parts of our university’s identity.
My parents resided in Lee and Sullivan; I went to the parts of Carmichael that existed before demolition frequently; the first few floors of Hill are where any student who needs to buckle down to study goes. With this construction, fundamental parts of NC State’s identity are being demolished, and for what cause other than superficial improvement? What else could these funds have been used for?
While I understand trying to make NC State better, replacing large parts of our identity is clearly redundant and degrades the identity of NC State in the process. Projects at NC State need to be necessary, and ideally not ones that interfere with student life or university identity. NC State could stand to learn from the old saying: “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.”