Sep 232009
Authors: M. Alex Stephens

How is this conceivable? I stumbled down the Weber Building stairwell last week, my body in complete numbing shock. My head began to spin in melodrama, unable to fully process the inescapable reality of having to once again buy ink cartridges. Woe is me.

I thought it was only a terribly sick rumor at first. It couldn’t be true: There is no way that my university, my CSU, the Ram capital of the world, would ever deprive the student body of complimentary printing. As if the unusually empty Weber bike lot wasn’t hint enough, my hopes had to be completely extinguished by seeing the hideous evidence for myself: “Due to budget cuts, free printing for students is no longer available.”

Thank goodness for the Eddy computer lab. According to the Collegian, only in the Eddy third floor lab and Clark Foreign Language lab can any student still (with restrictions) print for free. And with only 25,413 students enrolled this fall semester, all of our academic printing needs will easily be met if not exceeded.

After a fitful sleep, plagued by nightmares of abandonment, I awoke with a sunnier outlook on things. Aw heck, I thought to myself during my first class of the day, what’s the loss of free printing? It’s not like I deserved it or anything. Recessions happen after all, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

As I reconciled with a renewed sense of perspective, my hand inadvertently slipped underneath the desk to meet the rivets of aged gum lining its belly. Sick. Just how old is this antique? For that matter, my mind wandered, how long until class is over? Wait, where’s the clock?

It’s not just me; other eyes have searched the room for it long ago without success. For the past month the professor has relied on students with cell phones to tell him when we let out. Flashbacks of the Clark C-Wing’s infamously broken timepiece — over a year it stayed frozen at 10:55 — dart across my memory. Stop it, I quickly corrected myself, you’re acting like a spoiled political science undergrad with an entitlement complex.

Later that day, in my senior capstone seminar, my professor struggled to be heard over a broken ventilation fan, just as he’s had to do all semester. He’s placed slides on the overhead projector, but only half of them are decipherable at a time, for the machine’s 15-year-old glass is badly distorted.

But, I understand, this is a state university and the occasional top cover can be pricey to replace, especially when weighed against the value of our recently purchased police “personal law enforcement vehicles” or aesthetically exciting fountains to adorn the Academic Village.

As I leave my capstone and head West, thoroughly confused as to why a barely functional Panasonic TV from 1987 was still being used to educate an upper-division course of 30 students, my eyes were greeted with a most marvelously reassuring sight to quiet my unfounded anxieties: The construction of our brand new, state-of-the art Student Recreation Center.

Such a wonderful indulgence for current and future students to look forward to: A climbing tower and bouldering cave, a doubling of the spa capacity, twice as many fitness studios, even an indoor soccer court and refurbished running tracks. I can barely run on the current ones so I’m appalled that they haven’t been replaced sooner.

Last March, CSU President Tony Frank said the university is one of the few universities in the state seeing a surge in undergraduate applications. For that, I’m thrilled we’ll have the appropriate recreational facilities to accommodate so many students. Investing in our campus is vital for higher education, so the university administration ought to be congratulated on their wise and prudent use of university funds to preserve what really matters to us.

Hip, hip, hooray!

M. Alex Stephens is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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