Updated: Jan 17, 2019
After the opening of the Guerrieri Academic Commons in the fall of 2016, Blackwell Hall has been rendered obsolete, besides being an advising building. However, it can be something much more than this.
Many students remember performing late night homework sessions during their freshman and sophomore year, always remembering to dress in layers because Blackwell would either feel like the Arctic or the Sahara, no in-between.
However, with GAC now providing seating for hundreds of students at a time, rather than half that number, parking is now student’s largest problem with accessibility to their studies.
Salisbury University is forcing any student who has lived on campus for six or more semesters and/or has 90 or more credits at the end of the spring 2018 semester to move off campus. This leaves many juniors and seniors with questionable housing.
Salisbury is allowing students to write petitions to Housing, advocating for them to stay on campus, but it is mostly based on financial aid and whether one have an approved accommodation by the Disability Resource Center.
There is a large chunk of students who do not fit into either category, who are now left to find housing in such a short window of time. In the long-run, this means more people will be driving to campus, and regardless of how many green parking passes are distributed, parking in certain areas will become even more of a war-zone.
Other than promoting off-campus housing fairs, SU is doing just about nothing to accommodate for this.
Blackwell could be knocked down and turned into a parking lot to offset this shift in student housing. The act would address a direct need of students because no one should have to leave 45 minutes early for class in the pursuit of a parking spot.
Another suggestion leans more to an overlooked epidemic on college campuses and that is food insecurity. Blackwell could be used to assist in this issue.
People who go through food insecurity lack access to affordable and nutritious food. Plenty of students only attend certain events when they see “free food” on advertisements, and it is not just about gluttony. Often times, they have no idea where their next meal is coming from.
Food insecurity is so normalized on college campuses that it is often joked about through memes online.
According to a study conducted by Students Against Hunger, 20 percent of students at four-year colleges qualified as having very low food security. Also, 32 percent of students said that food insecurity had an impact on their education.
50 percent of students said they did not buy a required textbook for class, and 53 percent said they skipped a class.
Administrators often claim that those with meal plans could not possibly deal with food insecurity, but that is not the case. The same study shows that 43 percent of students with a meal plan still have food insecurity.
Food pantries have been successfully implemented in other University of Maryland System schools, including Towson and University of Maryland, College Park. It would be great for SU to follow suit.
College students should be concerned over making the best out of their university experience, not scavenging for their next meal, or even a parking spot. Blackwell or the space of Blackwell can be put to good use and not just be a waste of space.
By NADIA WILLIAMS
Featured photo: Drew Lacouture image.