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Another luxury for the bottom of the table

Column

Guest Columnist

Published: Sunday, March 31, 2013

Updated: Sunday, March 31, 2013 22:03

Ever since the news that state appropriations for higher education in West Virginia will be deducted has been released, there has been a buzz around campus. It seems as though Marshall University, a state institution that once prided itself on consistent tuition year after year is in trouble.

Although this new deduction is not the first of its kind, the state has slowly been reducing its yearly investment in higher education since 2009. However, Marshall continues to grow in large leaps and bounds, especially in the athletics department, where the Thundering Herd’s soccer program is due to receive a new state of the art sports facility, which will sit upon the old Memorial Field House.

Although this project was years in the making, the question of its funding does not strike the imagination too hard. Further, the soccer program has been incredibly successful in previous seasons, establishing itself as a constant contender for the division trophy, even playing in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Division One tournament. However the new renovations on Edwards field is a different situation.

Located on 20th street in Huntington, taking up the entire block between Third and Fifth Avenues, sits Joan C. Edwards stadium, home of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team since the completion of its construction in 1991. It replaced the Fairfield Stadium, also located in Huntington — the site of the young Thundering Herd’s infamous win over Xavier in 1971.

Starting just under a week ago, the Edwards field went under renovations to increase the seating capacity from its former high of 38,000. Some are starting to take notice.

Most ask why.

Why would the university make another move for the athletics department? Why now, amiss a possible ten percent spike in yearly tuition. Further, why expand the amount of seating when there has been frequent difficulty selling the seats that are already there?
Over the past five seasons the Thundering Herd football team has only finished with winning seasons twice.

In those winning seasons, the record was on the brink of losing, such as the 2011-2012 season where the Herd barely broke even after an amazing catch in overtime against Conference USA rival Eastern Carolina. This new development on the stadium will not come without a charge and the university will have to support it. With a steadily decreasing income from the state budget, some are beginning to wonder where tuition dollars are really going — into the sinking football program or the rising university colleges?
Perhaps the latter is not getting enough support because the athletics department does not show any signs of a nickel and dime budget. All of the colleges at Marshall have felt pressure in one way or another, the most notable being the paper and printing frenzy that has touched every college across campus.

Different colleges have dealt with it in different ways, such as the history department asking its professors to bring in their own paper and cut uses in half. The Foreign Languages department has taken a similar approach with some teachers going entirely paperless. However, the biggest cut has happened in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications, which will be absorbed by the College of Fine Arts. The journalism school has stood alone since 1999, but is now forced to become a part of the massive fine arts division which houses several other schools. So, where is the money really going? Towards another subpar season of football with state of that art empty seats or better learning experience for all?
Monty Green can be contacted at green173@marshall.edu.

 

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