UMass construction should be a source of pride

By Michael Agnello

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts has greatly shifted from its prior affiliation as a party school or “safety option” for applicants. In recent years the University has become a landmark for innovative research and highly capable graduates, progressive methods of education and commitment to sustainability. Its title for the philanthropy campaign, “UMass Rising,” is certainly fitting.

Despite its internal success though, the campus has lagged in receiving improvements, which is certainly something the administration has acknowledged considering the seemingly incessant construction on campus.

Yes, it’s inconvenient – ugly, too. And for upperclassmen the results won’t materialize until after graduation. But the means to better facilitate the reputation require renovating current buildings and creating new ones that better embody the modern values the University has undertaken. It has to be completed at some point and unfortunately we as current students are forced to witness the transformation.

I heard a good joke the other day from a student that accurately summarizes our time on campus: “There are only two seasons at UMass, construction and winter.” Notwithstanding the truth underneath the pessimism, I think one can cite the construction as a tangible representation of UMass’ positively changing identity and ergo look at it with satisfaction, rather than disdain.

That’s probably strange to read, but yes, the construction on campus should be viewed as a source of pride. It proves that the University is swiftly progressing toward elite status and as students we should acknowledge this pivotal moment in the University’s history and feel proud of ourselves, because in retrospect we helped bring about the positive change with our improved test scores and GPA’s coming from high school. The outdated buildings undermine the success as the campus should be a reflection of the accomplishments made by researchers and students during their time here.

A major point of frustration with the construction is the inability to witness the completion if you are a senior or junior. Why couldn’t this have been done before I left? But if one analyzes the current trajectory the University is on, we will benefit in the long run as a result of the situation because our degrees will be strengthened in conjunction with UMass’ progress.

During the recent Faculty Convocation Oct. 2, Chancellor Subbaswamy noted, “The flagship campus has reached heights that few could have imagined just a few short years ago. But while we should all be proud of what we’ve accomplished together, we are not done.”

The future holds promise for our school, though we won’t feel the immediate impacts like students on campus, we will still absorb the reputation. With a more aesthetically appealing campus and continued emphasis on research and academics, the school will achieve the prestige it set out to garner.

Believe me, by no means am I wholly content with the inconveniences caused by the construction, but instead of complaining about an inevitable issue, why not find the positive out of it? When all is completed, UMass will be a top-notch University and we will all be able to look back at our alma-matter with pride.

Michael Agnello is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]