Every high school senior visiting a campus undergoing construction hears those fateful words: “If you see construction on a campus, that’s a good thing! You know it’s growing and making room for new students like you.”
This statement is not as close to the truth as one may think. Since 2012, enrollment at the University of Mississippi has shown a near-constant year-to-year increasing trend. This means the small university needs more classrooms and living spaces to accommodate its growing population. However, much of the construction on campus during the past few years has been to beautify old buildings or upgrade sports facilities.
Currently, Ole Miss is upgrading its student union, building more STEM facilities, modifying Guyton Drive and much, much more. The university promises projects will go quickly and smoothly, but it constantly pushes back finish dates. This begs the question: Is construction at the University of Mississippi really a good thing?
Construction at Ole Miss has surely brought us some fantastic sporting facilities. Swayze Field, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and The Pavilion all offer great environments in which fans can cheer on the Rebels, and the new parking garage by Residence Halls 2 and 3 created some much-needed parking space.
However, construction at Ole Miss has significantly decreased the beauty of the campus. The eyesore that is Lamar Hall does not even compare to the ugly green fence surrounding scaffolding and equipment at the union, and the constant flow of workers and trucks during school days makes walking in that area a safety hazard, at times.
If that’s not enough to make students and faculty groan, the traffic on campus has only gotten worse. Construction has closed off many roads on campus, leaving few routes to get in and out of the university.
All these negative side effects of growing and beautifying may point to a larger issue at hand: The university needs to focus on already enrolled students. Though it is important that Ole Miss continues to grow, the university may need to slow that growth until it can accommodate all of its students. Part of the charm of Ole Miss is its gorgeous and compact campus. If it grows too much larger, the university will have to start looking for new land to build on by destroying the groves that surround campus.
Ole Miss needs to re-evaluate its long-term plans of growth before starting any new projects. Whether that means finishing current projects or decreasing the university’s admittance rate, a solution must be reached soon, or Ole Miss might lose some of its most charming and welcoming attributes.
Lauren Moses is a freshman accounting and political science double major from Dallas.