Editorial: Lack of funding for MU symptomatic of larger issue


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

The sun shines on the Memorial Union after a thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon on Nov. 11, 2015. 

Editorial Board

The Student Government voted to support a $15 building fee increase in August to go toward the Memorial Union deferred maintenance — however, it’s now February and the Iowa Board of Regents haven’t proposed any action to establish this increase. On a broader scale, the Editorial Board believes the funding issues facing the MU is symptomatic of a larger problem — a lack of funding from the state.

Just this Tuesday, President Wintersteen emailed the Iowa State community about the challenges facing our university because of the inadequate support from the state. The lack of state funding has compounded over the years and is now visible around campus, including the MU.

The MU needs the updates and maintenance, badly. Some basic functionality in the building, like elevators, don’t always work and are in need of repair. The space could also be renovated to better fit students’ needs.

Prospective students and their families are first welcomed on campus in the MU and usually park in the adjacent garage. The MU benefits current students and faculty with places to eat, meeting and office space, entertainment and lectures, among other things. Community members and alumni use the space for varying events and educational opportunities. It is clear that our university would greatly benefit from an increase in funding.

However, the bill for maintenance should not be placed solely on the backs of students. Students have already voiced their opinions on a similar referendum last spring. Sixty-two percent of students voted against increasing the student building fees to $99.55 over the course of two years. 

It’s clear students don’t want to be on the hook for financing the maintenance of campus facilities. Nor should they be entirely. A variety of people use the MU and benefit from its space and services.

The Lectures Program hosts a plethora of diverse, high-level lectures and presentations that are open to the community for free. This is because they are funded by the Committee on Lectures, funded in part by the Student Government and thus students. Further, the MU is also a place for meetings and events for various groups in our community.

We are not suggesting the Lectures Program start charging the public because its service is invaluable. Rather, we are reminding the public they too benefit from the MU. Therefore, they should contact their state senator and representative and express their support for increased state funding for public universities. Additionally, funding opportunities in the city of Ames should be utilized because of the benefit a functioning MU plays in the community at large.