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The Blue & Gray Press | November 19, 2017

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A Trailer is not a Proper Classroom

At a time when leaders are making sacrifices in Washington, on Wall Street and during plane crashes on the Hudson River, it’s time for the UMW administration to follow suit.

To show your leadership, we have a modest proposal: put yourselves in trailers, not your students.

As Monroe Hall, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful buildings on campus, begins its much-needed renovations this summer, students will be forced to abandon murals for steel siding.

Possibly the biggest draw students have to Mary Washington is our gorgeous campus, with historic and cohesive buildings.

As sophomore Jessica Pryor said in last week’s first page story:
“I thought only public K-12 schools had to worry about taking classes in trailers. I feel like I pay a lot of money to go to a nice school and have my classes in historic buildings, not trailers.”

Besides being an eyesore, trailers have thin walls and poor heating and air conditioning; not exactly the most fruitful learning environment.

After the bookstore moves back into Lee Hall this semester, the trailer will be used for classes starting in the summer 2009 sessions and continuing for the next two years. Will we ever get our beautiful Westmoreland Lawn back?

Trailers can certainly be used for functional purposes like the bookstore and the Financial Aid office, but to hold classes in a temporary shelter amounts to squeezing a sacred environment into a box.

Here’s where professors and administrators, especially those who have been at UMW for ages, can step up: sacrifice your office space, if only for a semester, and let students who are only here for four short years have the most fulfilling campus experience they can.

While it is true that many (but definitely not all) faculty offices would be too small to fit a full class anyway, the administration could get a little creative with other spaces on campus, either for more classrooms or places to put faculty offices that have been replaced with classrooms. Faculty could also temporarily share offices.

The president’s mansion is blocks away from campus; couldn’t she office from home for a semester or two? Better yet, there’s probably plenty of space for classes at Brompton.

The William Street Mansion, for example, has numerous rooms going unused and most of the rooms currently being used as offices could easily fit a classroom of 15 students.

It wouldn’t hurt to have smaller classes anyway.

Lee Hall was just renovated, couldn’t classes be held in the revamped ballroom?

Perhaps  Great Hall,  the Red Room, or even Dodd Auditorium could be utilized. Anything but trailers.

With a drastic budget cut and rising tuition prices on the horizon, asking to have our classes in classrooms doesn’t seem like an extravagance. Think about it.

Maybe we’ll even offer up the Bullet office.