I’m glad the Business School just
got a $100 million early Christmas gift. Now I’m just going
to sit back and wait for the same generous endowment to be dropped
onto the lap of those other places with seats and chalk in Ann
Arbor: LSA, the school of Social Work, Nursing, Kinesiology, and
every other school or college that already doesn’t have the
luxury of wireless high-speed Internet access, leather chairs, and
portraits of old white men hanging omnipresent throughout its
halls.

Beth Dykstra

The Business School has its own hotel, the Executive Residence,
a lavish place where rates start at $130 a night. My classroom in
Mason Hall is about the same size as one of these “Executive
Residences,” but in a press release after the donation the
Business School dean Robert Dolan sadly lamented the days of trying
to actually run a school with $100 million less cash: “Our
distinctive program is limited only by facilities that simply do
not do justice to Michigan’s team-based, collaborative
educational approach.”

I highly doubt two of my roommates, who are communications
majors and take the majority of their classes in the Frieze
Building, a rundown, shabby, converted high school that looks like
it was built during the Kennedy administration, would agree with
Mr. Dolan’s assessment of the dire conditions of the Business
School. From what I’m told by them, the Frieze Building lacks
many of the basic amenities that one could find in an elementary
school … like air conditioning. One of these roommates tells
me almost everyday how whenever he goes to class, he needs to bring
a separate pair of underwear and another T-shirt because he sweats
so much during class, leaving him with a severe case of what he
refers to as “swamp ass.” Another one of my roommates,
who frequently takes classes in a dark, smelly, dangerously
overcrowded dungeon known as the Modern Languages Building, tells
me that just trying to use the restroom in the MLB, an LSA
building, leaves him feeling vulnerable and violated: with stalls
in the men’s room only a few feet high, it’s not
possible for one to “conduct one’s business”
without his head sticking fully out of the stall, making him
entirely visible, in all of his struggling glory, to anyone who may
be entering into the bathroom—a humiliating experience,
I’m sure you’ll agree.

People who graduate from the School of Social Work,
Communications, or the Nursing school usually don’t wind up
with jobs that will enable them to make multimillion-dollar
donations. So they’re stuck with the building from the
’60s and the budget cuts. The prospect of “providing an
integrated look and feel to our facilities,” as Dolan said
that this new endowment will help achieve in the B-School, is just
a pipe dream for the professionals and instructors in those other
fields. The Frieze Building is falling apart—walls being
intact would certainly provide an integrated look for this
facility.

I’m not trying to criticize the gift that Mr. Ross, the
$100 million man, made — I think it is extremely generous and
a great thing for the Business School as well as the University.
However, I feel it is a bit insensitive for those with vastly
superior facilities, smaller classrooms, and, of course, adequate
bathroom facilities, to act as if they were in dire need of
assistance and at risk of not being able to fully realize the
potential of their students. I’m in LSA, and I endure
several-hundred-person lectures, desks that don’t fit me and
the necessity of blocking out the constant sound of construction so
that I can hear my instructor’s voice. In terms of
facilities, as compared to the Business School, are I and my peers
light years behind? Absolutely. But it is rare that I have ever
heard any teacher or student suggest that students are limited in
their potential as a result of less-than-desirable facilities.
It’s a real slap in the face for the rest of the student
population who are not in the Business School, and frequently
endure bouts of “swamp ass,” to hear someone from the
business school say that they are limited. Please — save the
self-pity for someone who really needs it, like Mr. Ross’s
kids, now that dad’s short $100 million.

 

Money matters, especially when we ain’t got none. To
commiserate with Adam, e-mail him at
“mailto:amrosen@umich.edu”>amrosen@umich.edu.

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