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Campus tour groups are getting the wrong tour

Prospective students are unaware of the school’s problems, from inaccessibility to deteriorating buildings.Campus tour groups – happy, curious lots of high school students and parents milling about with a tour group leader.

A little too happy and not nearly curious enough.

An honest tour of this campus would not leave parents nor children with bright smiles. UMass Dartmouth boasts of drab concrete architecture, crumbling stairs, deteriorating buildings, and handicap inaccessibility ranging from the inadequate ramps to the broken handicap doors.

The school’s attempt to improve our gray, depressing architecture seems to be Best Buy’s dream come true – a ridiculous and excessive number of flat screen televisions. We have them everywhere. We even have one on top of another in the Campus Center. What is this? Mission control?

It’s as if the school is banking on people’s inability to suppress instinct by distracting them with moving pictures and bright colors. But once the slideshow cycles back to the beginning, guess what the tour group’s going to focus on? That horrid concrete that snags your hair if you so much as lean against it.

If we really must keep the concrete, could we not at least improve its aesthetic value with something worth roaming our eyes over? Such as a big mural, or more artwork. This would encourage attention to the concrete, while taking away its ugliness.

Speaking of ugliness, there’s nothing more unsightly than crumbling stairs that look like a screenshot from some horror film. Unsightliness aside, there’s also the issue of safety. Is the school waiting for someone to break an ankle or a face before they’ll patch it up?

Patching up the stairs isn’t even the first issue with the crumbling stairs. It was the time the school took to pick up the pieces that crumbled off the stairs. Not only are the stairs dangerous in that they’re missing essential points, but add on the danger of stepping on rubble and it’s almost like you’re really running around in an apocalyptic setting when you’re trying to get to class on time.

As for the buildings themselves, how often do tour leaders bring the groups to the top floors of any buildings? Close to never. Why? Because then they’d have to explain the massive lakes that take up the top floors of most of the buildings due to leaks. Better yet, tour leaders may have to explain the various kitty litter buckets and recycling bins that catch the rain.

Tour groups will never see the sandbags that line the outside of the CVPA, which keep the rainwater from spilling into the gallery inside. Of course, this precaution was taken only after a particularly wet fiasco last year, when a piece was damaged due to the leak.

Tour groups will also never see the leaks on the third floors of the CVPA, caught by kitty litter buckets, or in the faculty hallways in Liberal Arts, which are caught by recycling bins, or in the Science and Engineering buildings, which just accumulate into pools. They’ll also never see the giant crack that runs down Science and Engineering, which allows viewers inside to view the outside.

Prospective students and their parents will never notice the precarious nuts and bolts that seem to barely secure overhead lounges to the rest of the building because that’s not what the school wants to show them.

Nor does the school want to show that their handicap buttons are mainly broken. Ever tried pressing one of them? How often do the doors open?

The school definitely doesn’t want tour groups to see the handicap inaccessible ramp that’s actually labeled as handicap inaccessible, over by the Campanile. Who knew that those signs even existed? Why do they exist? Why should a handicap inaccessible sign ever exist? And why has it existed for so long on this campus?

Our university has taken on a new mission –to bring in more students, and to retain those students because administration has decreed that the rate at which UMass Dartmouth retains its students is not satisfactory. Administration really truly want to know why.

Here’s why, administration – because you show prospective students and their family the good side of the school. Sure, every school has a good side and a bad side, but most school’s bad sides aren’t a lack of structural integrity, or potential physical dangers.

This is to say that they don’t have leaky ceilings and are alright with them for four years. This is to say that if their structures are crumbling, they will not only pick it up, but patch it up. This is to say that they are handicap accessible and abide by the rules set forth by the American with Disabilities Act.

Do you think that anyone would ever want to stay at an institution this drab, this deteriorating and this frustrating? Do you truly think anyone stays for the school itself? The only world class this university has to offer is through its immensely caring faculty and staff.

This campus and the seemingly uncaring attitude that administration takes toward its students and their well-being are nothing short of disheartening .  And that is why students don’t stay.

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