Garel_Best of UC, February 19th, 2023 (copy)

The beds in the newly finished Calhoun Hall barely compensate for its neighbor, Siddall Hall, going under renovation.

Renovation seems to be a constant of life here at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Look down any street; there’s a decent chance you’ll find construction cones, building materials, various types of heavy machinery, caution tape or other evidence. While you could fault it for aesthetic reasons, renovation in and of itself isn’t bad. It is often necessary, and every student here knows that some buildings on campus desperately need it. 

The residence halls that have been renovated, for example, were in desperate need of a revamp. They were old, often bleak, and commonly criticized by students, to name a few. Renovating in circumstances like this is beneficial – it can improve the happiness of those living in these spaces and the feel of campus more broadly once complete. 

More generally, infrastructure requiring repair and renovation isn’t an uncommon occurrence. It’s a fact of life – erosion and decay eat at every building until it has to be demolished or renovated for safety reasons, if not for looks. This is also important – buildings exist to be a safe and sheltered environment, so renovating them for safety concerns is perfectly valid.

So, what makes renovations detrimental? The other policy decisions that reside alongside them. In UC’s case, this refers to several things: increasing class sizes, offering a substantial amount of majors, requiring first-year students to live in on-campus housing, and more. In relation to the construction specifically, it also refers to just how often UC is renovating buildings, housing and otherwise. 

Housing-wise, UC has allowed its renovations to eat up a substantial amount of student housing yearly. The $80-million Calhoun renovation was immediately followed by a closure of Siddall for more renovation, resulting in a net gain of very few actual beds. It was enough to stop the housing crisis of last semester, but it certainly won’t be enough to stop the upcoming one. It also leaves a question in mind: what dorm will be renovated next, and will the new Siddall be able to fulfill the housing requirements of years to come?

Classroom-wise, this gets a lot more complicated. The upcoming renovation of Old Chem is a great example – it could displace clubs, classes, offices and more. Although it’s necessary for structural integrity in this case, these scenarios do pose reasonable concerns. How will UC adapt to even more clubs that will inevitably form with an increasing student body? What about more classes for more majors or more sections of the same classes for increasing major populations? 

All of these questions are still yet to be answered by the university, but that doesn’t mean solutions and answers don’t exist. Instead, it means the university administration has yet to recognize that their current practice of making every decision based on profit isn’t sustainable. If constant renovations and increasing admissions keep up at their current pace, it may not be long before the hotels around campus and new office spaces aren’t enough. At that point, our current housing crisis may appear to be only a small sliver of the destructive impacts of UC’s administration. 

Opinion Editor

Ian Siegert has been with The News Record since 2022 as an opinion contributor and now opinion editor. He is a junior majoring in statistics and political science.