Portland has a long history of “renewing” areas that those with power do not use. For example, Old Town, the Pearl District, MLK boulevard and even Portland State’s little spot of land.
Not to belittle those examples, but to illustrate how pervasive this kind of thinking is, let’s examine an issue closer to students.
ASPSU, your student government, wants to tear down the bowling lanes in the basement of the Smith Memorial Center. Why? The same old reasons: they don’t use it and they don’t see its value to others. After all, wouldn’t another computer lab be of much more use to the PSU community?
We don’t think so.
Consider this, the PSU neighborhood has many evening activities for those who drink, but not much for those who cannot imbibe without risking arrest or those who choose not to drink. Sure the lanes stand empty during the week, but so does the library computer lab at 3 a.m.
Outside of finals week students rarely encounter trouble getting into a lab. So a new lab wouldn’t help that much except during the end of the term. Let’s be honest with ourselves, building one more lab will not change how long you have to wait during that finals week crunch.
Now consider, if we need more labs why should ASPSU assume the responsibility to build them? Doesn’t the administration have an obligation to us to maintain adequate facilities for learning, including general use computer labs?
Furthermore, computer labs are money pits. They cost a lot to build and maintain while the bowling lanes paid for themselves long ago and have made a modest profit ever since. Adding a new lab would most likely increase the technology fee, the building fee and the student fee. With students facing two four-percent tuition increases, higher fees could drive them to other schools.
So if there are so many good reasons for ASPSU not to tear down the bowling alley and not to get into the computer lab business, then why are they so intent on removing the lanes?
ASPSU will tear it down for the same reasons people have always destroyed neighborhoods and built “better” things in their place – they don’t use it so they don’t care.
After all it’s just good politics to piss off a few people to give a larger group something that they think they need.