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Another sign, another waste of money

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Amidst economic hardship, the University purchased a $200,000 welcome sign

Author: elisabeth sahlmueller- contributor

As a U of R student who is paying her way through post-secondary education student loans, I like to know that my tuition and other school fees will be well spent. However, with the university’s plans for a second expensive sign for the north side of the school, I can’t help but feel disappointed by the way students’ money is being wasted.

The new sign’s estimated cost is around $200,000, but like most construction projects, by the time it’s complete, it will likely double that amount. This sign, along with a new set of traffic lights, is part of the Gateway Project, which is meant to improve the north intersection. While I do agree that it’s important for that work to be done, I think it’s too much money to be laying down for the construction of another sign, especially considering that we just got a new sign last year and another one won’t benefit the students, professors, or University staff.

In a Leader Post article last month, Costa Maragos, a University spokesman, was quoted saying that it will be “a one-time cost…that will last 100 years.” Although this sounds great, it’s unreasonable to think that nothing unforeseeable could ruin or damage the sign in that time. What happens if the sign is vandalized? Will the university get another overpriced sign and raise our tuition once again to help cover the cost? I’m surprised that the university would even consider spending such a large sum of money on another new sign when they are dealing with financial problems and having to let professors go.

I’m not the only person upset by these plans. There has been an outpour of disappointment by community members, professors, teaching assistants, and U of R students. Many students are upset that their tuition has been increased to help pay for a new sign that serves them no purpose.

Some students also have mixed reactions, including Ethan Butterfield, who will be starting his second year.

“It’s a nice statement that shows how far the U of R has come. Unfortunately, the price is quite steep and I’m sure there are other departments that could use the money.”

Although the sign may be something to proud of, there are better things that the money should go toward that would benefit the students a lot more than another sign likely will. Why not put that money into various school groups/teams, implementing the U-Pass, boosting the Owl’s business, paying teaching assistants fairer wages, or simply lowering tuition? A lot of different things could benefit from that $200,000, but instead it’s going to help build a second useless sign.

This new sign may come at a lower cost, but I doubt it will get the recognition that comes with the price tag. On a positive note, I guess as U of R students, we should feel proud that we helped the sign get built with our increased tuition rates. Without it, this additional sign may never have been a possibility.

People in powerful positions may claim to care about students, but they quickly forget student interests when tempted with the prospect of a shiny new sign.

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