Monday, August 15, 2022

Word of advice to UMKC officials: Focus on the now, then the future

The university faced major changes this semester. Mauli Agrawal started as chancellor and is looking transform the university. The problem is the proposed changes aren’t aligning with current student needs.

The chancellor and others within the University of Missouri System, notably Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman, have spoken at length about making the university more attractive to newcomers.

A few of the major things mentioned is basketball and the (long proposed) conservatory. The move may very well attract future students to campus, but how will these help the almost 17,000 students that already attend the university?

Earlier this semester, Chancellor Agrawal issued a statement announcing the men’s basketball team will play their home games at the Swinney Recreation Center. The hope is on-campus games will bring more tradition and school spirit to a university severely lacking in those categories.

The idea is noble. Many believe the idea will work, but the problem is there are more issues that students face daily at UMKC.

Steelman went on KCUR’s Up to Date last month and had a lot to say about the future of the university.

“What this community needs is a vibrant and active university. I don’t see how that comes to fruition without 2,500 more undergraduate students,” said Steelman. “Maybe 5,000 undergraduate student are really needed because then you get the mass that can keep attracting people.”

Steelman cited both the conservatory and an emphasis on basketball as ways of attracting more students. Both are promising ideas that may help this university in the long haul, but for those of us currently on campus, it appears as though the university does not care about its current students.

How can university officials talk about adding students when the university is already failing their current students in so many areas? Students are being put out after constant problems with housing on campus, a topic U-news has long covered.

The lack of housing has a butterfly effect on another issue close to students’ hearts: parking. Students have had issues with the parking situations since the day I set foot on campus.

Again, I understand the university is going to need to make changes for the future, but the university also has a duty to its current students. University officials need to recognize that current students are here.

I am a huge basketball fan, but I did not come to this university to watch basketball. Nor did I attend this university for a brand-new conservatory. Not even current freshmen are guaranteed to reap the benefits of either project.

For now, UMKC please slow down with all the talk about the future. The future of the university is important, but we have problems now. The current student body deserves more attention.

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