Repairing stadium should be a priority

On some days, it’s hard for students to go to class.

It’s even harder if the classroom is falling apart.

Faculty, students and staff in Smith Stadium have had to learn and teach under years of wear and water damage.

Who would want to teach in such conditions? Instructor Mary Cobb doesn’t. She said it is difficult to teach gymnastics effectively with all the water leakage in her classroom.

Western has a newly renovated Diddle Arena and students live in renovated dorms. A smaller group of students, faculty and staff should not have to work and learn under such filthy conditions.We would not want our worst enemies studying under such conditions, so certainly we wouldn’t want our own to have to.

Understandably, the university has placed its priority on upgrading the science buildings first, but it shouldn’t ignore problems in other departments as well. Physical education classes, like the sciences classes, are taken mostly to fulfill general education requirements. Regardless of when legislators will be able to fund repairs for Smith Stadium, it is up to Western administrators to make it a priority.

The sooner Western can express a need for state funding to repair Smith Stadium, the sooner it can get it. It took legislators three years to fulfill President Gary Ransdell’s request for funding to renovate the science buildings.

The process for obtaining funding for Smith Stadium could take just as long or longer. Even if state funding isn’t possible, Western should make efforts to find money elsewhere, whether it’s from donors or from federal funds.

If administrators wait any longer, the already big problems might become bigger. Missing pieces of concrete, flooding and syrup leaking into classrooms from concession stands need immediate attention.

It is also troubling that Ransdell just became aware of the damage in that building. Head Athletic Trainer Bill Edwards said he has noticed the concrete separating for several years. Why has it taken so long for administrators to notice?

Western has several new buildings up and in the works. If the university only checks its buildings “periodically” and never communicates problems, then in 20 years buildings like the Mass Media and Technology Hall and the Science and Engineering Building might be in a similar position.

University administrators ought to have regular inspections of all the buildings to prevent that from happening. Then if there’s a small problem, it can be fixed. Problems won’t build up over several decades.

Ransdell has often said that he wants Western to be one of the best comprehensive universities in the state as well as one of the best in the nation. That goal should be extended to all its departments and buildings.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 9-member board of student editors.