Expansions, renovations isolate certain parts of MU from campus

The distance between campus, academic buildings and residence halls has caused an increased focus on outreach initiatives.
Ben Kothe / Graphic Designer

MU has expanded its facilities beyond campus grounds in recent years — a move criticized by some members of the university for making the affected feel “isolated.”

For example, the off-campus student housing at Tiger Diggs is “not the ideal situation, particularly for freshmen,” said Frankie Minor, director of the Department of Residential Life.

“While (Tiger Diggs) has been a good option for us, we still feel that the proximity of on-campus housing is still the best option,” Minor said. “It’s very important for students to be in a situation that forces a little more interaction with others; that’s how friendships are formed.”

The effects of distance

The distance between campus and Tiger Diggs can discourage its residents from getting as involved in campus activities and organizations as students living in other residence halls do, Minor said.

“I think that any distance can be an inhibitor,” he said. “One of the fundamentals of real estate is: location, location, location. If you are back in your apartment right now you might ask, ‘Am I really going to that student organization meeting right now when it is pouring down raining and cold out?’”

The distance can limit students from accessing campus resources, said Joelle Khairallah, hall coordinator at Tiger Diggs.

“One thing we do see is that the GPA levels here are slightly lower than other students on campus,” she said. “We do have tutoring here, but obviously they have a better setup and other resources on campus.”

Sophomore Shannon Le, who currently resides at Tiger Diggs, said she is concerned the distance has actually created a divide between the apartments and campus atmosphere.

“I think they perceive us more as outsiders because we live off-campus,” Le said. “You are a little isolated from the campus atmosphere because it is a hassle to wait for the buses. So you might want to stay in your apartment where it’s comfortable to you.”

Representation of Tiger Diggs residents is another concern, Khairallah said.

“Every year, even during Residence Hall Association’s representative committee meetings, the vibe that every single one of my representatives gets is that ‘this doesn’t apply to you, and because this doesn’t apply to you, you have to think differently,’” she said. “Last year, we were able to push for Residential Life to put in some money to improve the number of hours the shuttle bus comes here on weekends. But we did have to push quite a bit more so than on-campus residence halls.”

However, many residents at Tiger Diggs still manage to overcome the distance and get actively involved on campus.

Le is an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity.

Sophomore Victoria Kyles, who also lives at Tiger Diggs, became involved with the Freshman Action Team during her second semester at MU.

“The distance was a little bit of a barrier, but they really helped out (with getting more involved),” Kyles said.

In addition to the shuttle service to campus, Tiger Diggs residents are encouraged to participate in hall government and plan social events at the facility.

Museum of Art and Archaeology

Relocation of the Museum of Art and Archaeology to Mizzou North is another controversial move that was heavily criticized by faculty members.

“There are a lot of benefits to having a museum on campus,” said Rachel Harper, coordinator of the honors humanities sequence. “I could no longer require my students to get to Mizzou North. What if they don’t have cars? How would they get there? Imagine what would happen if the library were to move to Mizzou North! Who would use it?”

Between 150 and 300 students from the honors humanities sequence used to visit the museum each semester, Harper said.

“I think it says a lot about what the university values,” she said. “I hope it is a temporary decision.”

Associate teaching professor Nicole Monnier, a member of the faculty council, criticized Jackie Jones, vice chancellor for administrative services, for not consulting the faculty body before making the decision to move the museum.

“The Campus Planning Committee’s primary function is to advise the vice chancellor,” Monnier said. “But this committee was not brought in to discuss the plans for the museum. So obviously, there has been a disconnect between Jackie Jones’s office and at the very least, that particular committee that was very poised to provide input about proposed changes.”

Jones declined to provide The Maneater with a response to Monnier’s statement.

This breakdown in communication is no news, Monnier said.

“I don’t think the faculty was deliberately left out, but for a long time, there has been a disconnect in communication between administrative decisions and those populations who are affected by them,” she said. “In the case of the museum, it affects academic programming, and anyone who uses the museum for classes suddenly had that taken out of their possibilities for how they teach their course.”

The administration had been aware of the radiation problem at Pickard Hall and has been monitoring the situation for years, Monnier said.

“The timeline is really troubling,” she said. “It seems that there has been a three or four month period where the administration knew that this was inevitable and did not announce it until the end of May. It’s interesting that the university didn’t have a plan before this. There should have been a Plan B.”

In the meantime, the museum will do what it can to adapt to this situation, museum director Alex Barker said.

“While we are here, we are going to focus on increasing the accessibility of the collections online and having high-quality images served up,” he said. “Because we are further away, we are also learning to increase our focus on outreach.”

Barker said he hopes the museum will safely return to Pickard in the near future.

“I think in the long-term, it’s important for the museum to be as accessible as possible to students,” he said. “We just do not have enough information at this time to say when we can go back. But I hope we will be back on campus soon.”

The museum plans to be fully moved out of Pickard Hall by the end of 2013 and reopen at the new location around April 2014, Barker said.

In addition to the Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Museum of Anthropology, located in Swallow Hall, and several offices based out of Jesse Hall will temporarily relocate to Mizzou North while the Renew Mizzou renovations take place.

Future on-campus housing

The Department of Residential Life’s future plans include increasing housing on-campus and eventually stopping use of Tiger Diggs as an off-campus housing supplement, Minor said.

In addition to Virginia Avenue South Housing, two new residence halls, currently referred to as “Building One” and “Building Two,” and a new dining facility have been approved.

Building One will be constructed over the basketball court area located between Lathrop Hall and South Hall, and will open in the fall of 2016.

Jones Hall will be demolished in January 2015 to make room for Building Two and the new dining hall. These two structures will open in Fall 2017.

The second phase of the plan, which has yet to be approved, will potentially demolish Laws and Lathrop halls to construct new buildings over them. The Pavilion at Dobbs will also be demolished after the new dining hall is completed, and a third building will take its place.

In total, the second phase will add up to 350 beds to the 1,000 existing beds in those halls marked for demolition, Minor said.

“The challenge is that we are running out of room,” he said. “So if we were to add more housing, it would mean we may need to acquire more property.”

Though currently unlikely, the prospect of the university expanding its borders is concerning, Columbia City Councilman Karl Skala said.

“I don’t see any huge issue with that yet, but there may be a time at which there may be a conflict between what the university wants to do and what the city wants to do,” he said.

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