The doors in Knutti Hall are covered in dirt with chips in the wood.

The Ugly Duckling

(THE PICKET) – As I look around the classroom I have sat in so many times and multiple semesters a sense of sadness washes over me.  I am drifting away from the lecture at this time, wondering what I will have for dinner.

As my love for Shepherd University has blossomed, I look around and feel disheartened that my surroundings have not.  This classroom has continued to wilt.  The paint on the walls has been slapped on repeatedly over the years and is peeling back from being layered on so thickly time and time again.  The carpet under my feet has mysterious dark stains.  The world map hanging on the wall is yellowed and curling up.  The “television” in the classroom is a Panasonic circa 1980.  You know the boxy kind that is bungee corded to a rickety old AV cart.  Remember ‘movie time’ in day care and how excited you would be to see that TV being rolled out?  Well, now it is the complete opposite.  Where is the up-to-date technology?  The desks in the classroom have been the same for the past four years and do not match each other.  The pictures that hang on the walls to beautify the scene are often the butt of the joke among students.  Anything that was once white, is yellowed from age and hanging by a thread.

Nick Clark, junior music major at Shepherd University said, “President Shipley spent countless hours beautifying the outside of campus, but it is very misleading because nothing has been done to the inside of any of the older buildings.”

Unjustly, Shepherd University is set up like a monopoly board.  West campus is the “Boardwalk,” surrounded with modern, aesthetically pleasing buildings that cost a high dollar.

Purdue University did a study that concluded investing money into a college’s facilities helps retain students.  A college/university that has up-to-date facilities and is visually appealing is twice as likely to retain a student for the duration of a college career, according to the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.

So, if you luck out and your major requires you to be on the ‘Boardwalk’ side of campus, it is highly likely you will happily remain at Shepherd until you ‘win’ by obtaining your degree.  East campus is the equivalent to Kentucky Avenue, the orange spaces.  Not many players land on these spaces and if you have put houses, or even hotels, on this property it is likely you won’t make much of a profit. Being on an orange space is comfortable, but not quite the home stretch of being on Boardwalk.  A whole lot of buzz centers on Boardwalk, the rest of the game board seems to be forgotten, left behind, and undesired.

Kathy Allen is a freshman who just toured Shepherd University this fall and said, “Well, when I visited Shepherd I noticed that the West side was more high tech and better quality.  Then the East side looks like those stories you see about underprivileged children and the conditions they go to school in.  It seems like Shepherd is favoring the athletic and art departments instead of disbursing the funds evenly throughout campus.”

The lack of attention paid to the classroom buildings raises the question of, is my tuition money worth this?  For the past several years tuition has continued to increase but little has been done to improve the classrooms.  And aren’t the classrooms one of the most crucial parts in getting an education?  The communications department is one department in particular that is often neglected.  The entire communications department is in the old basement of Knutti Hall.  While most of the students in the department admire the fact that they are nestled away from the bustle of campus, the question of whether they are getting their full money’s worth is still in play here.

Michael Gerard, senior at Shepherd stated, “I’d like to see better facilities in the mass communication department.  Art students get whole buildings; we get a basement in Knutti Hall with no bathroom and only one real classroom.”

Going into her junior year, Justine Barrow was touring schools in the area comparing prices and facilities. She says, “As a student from Lord Fairfax Community College and Shenandoah University I can say both of those campuses are going to extraordinary measures to update every facility to the best of their ability.  For Shenandoah, it is a privately funded school, so for them to be able to keep their facilities up to date shows that they care about their students and their learning environment.  I’m not saying Shepherd needs to be super high tech, but I feel like basic cleanliness is conducive to learning”.

As a former janitor in Knutti Hall, Daryl Simmons said, “All of us were definitely underpaid.  I was only allowed to work no more than 20 hours, so I couldn’t really get a whole lot done.  I always did the trash in the rooms and wiped doors down.”  Shepherd has a good reputation in the community so it is baffling that its employees who take care of it are not taken care of themselves.  With tuition of the continual rise, the facilities on Shepherd campus should not be in a downward spiral.

It is heartbreaking to see a renowned university falling apart at the seams.  I walk around campus and see an amazing amount of potential that is just going to waste.  As a current student that takes classes on the East side of campus, I feel like an outcast.  It seems as though Shepherd doesn’t care about majors other than Athletics and Art. If Shepherd doesn’t fix this issue, they are going to continue to see a decline in their student population.

1 Comment Posted

  1. It’s a business. The beautification is not for the students. It is to sell the school to PROSPECTIVE students.

    And if the university teaches “social justice” ethics to you, or has a gender studies or women’s studies curriculum — and you take it — you’ve been doubly scammed.

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