December 1, 2020

My Master Plan

Brittany Ruess is junior journalism major and Lifestyle editor for The Journal

*Editor’s note: There are two students sitting on Webster University’s Master Planning Steering Committee. The students, one undergraduate and one graduate, will meet with other committee members, which include members of the Webster Groves Chamber of Commerce, Neighborhood Advisory Council, Board of trustees and Webster faculty and staff.

The University is currently putting together a new Master Plan. We at The Journal couldn’t help but extrapolate on the possibilities of a master plan designed exclusively for students. If I had my way, there would be some changes around here. So, I took it upon myself to jot down some suggestions. Because there is no student sitting on the Master Plan committee, I thought it more important you get some student input. Below is my top five Webster wish list­ — my Master Plan.

1.    University Center expansion
It’s a topic that has been brought up time and time again. And, although putting it in the top spot may be somewhat redundant to many, I feel that bringing this issue forward may open some eyes…again. The UC is the single place on campus designed for all students. So let’s make everybody happy! Plus, it will simply look attractive to potential students.
Suggestion: The top floor should maintain meal options like WOW and Blimpie’s and move the athletic offices to the lower level. The move will allow more space for student organizations to have offices and a conference room of their own.
The lower level will be the center for the continually growing athletic department. As an athlete at Webster for two years, I know the difficulty of the space constraints for the athletes. Two gyms would be ideal. One reserved for athletic events and the other for recreational purposes. This also allows outdoor sports to move inside during bad weather while not interrupting indoor sports such as volleyball and basketball.
The athletic offices should be adjacent to one another and the coaches need a their own conference room so they don’t have to battle with student organizations for a meeting place.
Also, the athletic training room needs more space. That room can get packed and the office space for athletic trainers Martin Fields and Amy Short is unacceptable for the amount of work they put into healing our athletes.
2.    Sverdrup renovation.
See you on the other side of Edgar, SBT! Make room for the Communications kids. We may stand second to you as the largest school, but we need some elbow-room.
Suggestion: With all the new space we can have a new newsroom, more photo studios and more recording studios. Our media center, which is already excellent, could only benefit from an increase in size. During its rush hour(s), the Media Center becomes full with students of all different needs and wants. To help out those Media Center employees, the space can offer a better flow so they can ensure students receive the equipment needed. The access students in the SOC have to this kind of equipment is central to our education.
3.    On-campus daycare/early care
Suggestion: Create a space in an existing building for free childcare services for students, faculty, staff and community members. The childcare will allow mothers and fathers to drop off their children in a safe environment. The sheer number of grad students, many of whom have families to worry about, should make this an immediate priority. Commuters and faculty alike can rest easy knowing their children are safe during class time. It will be run by a chosen professor in the education department and will allow education students to work with children and practice the skills they are learning in the classroom. A win-win, I say.
4.    Visual Arts Studio renovation and with increased art supplies
In the Spring 2011 Delegate’s Agenda, the Visual Arts Studio (VAS) was reported to have clogged sinks, leaky pipes and growing mold. Gross.
Creating art can be a messy process, but the building shouldn’t be this down in the dumps. Webster’s art students have produced incredible material, and their dedicated faculty should have access to the same quality of materials as any other department.
Suggestion: Clean up the place. Then, give the art students more and more supplies. If Communication students are provided media equipment that cost thousands of dollars, art students should be allotted their equipment and tools as well. It’s only fair. An artist’s imagination is limitless, but his or her bank account isn’t.
5.    The much talked-about science building desired by basically everyone but Residents for Webster Groves
In the 2003 university master plan, Webster promised not to go north of Lockwood. Now, before I continue, I would really love to know was this “promise” was a pinky promise? Because, in my 21 years, promises are only best kept by your third-grade best friend, not a university, which is a money-making entity. It’s a business. Therefore, students are essentially, customers. And the scientific customers aren’t really getting what they paid for. Now, that’s just bad business.
After former President Richard Meyers left and Beth Stroble took over, so did an almost entirely new administration. I’m not convinced that a new administration has to keep the promises of an old one.
Suggestion: Go north of Lockwood and take what the facilities you need administration! The Webster scientists of tomorrow depend on you. I have faith, and so does the Theology department.
Oh, Webster scientist, imagine walking into a new laboratory, your bleach white lab coat hanging on the wall as you walk in the door. You grab your shiny silver tools and you’re off to work, dissecting frogs, staring at cells, growing your own yeast. Oh so natural.

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