Letters to the Editor

Alumnus rebukes university for crowd funding an ‘essential service’

Back in 2008, I wrote an Op-Ed for The D.O. about Bird Library’s need for additional power outlets. A modest request for a salient problem that went unanswered. Out of necessity, I started going to the then-new Life Science building to study. Seven years later, I read an email the university sent me that seemed to address this archaic, yet ongoing problem. “Finally,” I thought. Then I clicked the link and it brought me to a crowdfunding page. When I saw that, I was incensed.

Incensed that a school that’s increased its student body, since mine was the biggest class ever — a record that was surpassed the following year — couldn’t find $2,500 to renovate its library. I was incensed that a school whose tuition climbed steadily to the $40,000 plus it is now and moved from our beloved Big East to the ACC to collect $17 million could have the giant brass balls to ask for a handout to do something so paramount to their supposed primary function: education. With no sense of hyperbole, this is a misguidance of spending and lack of fiduciary responsibility.

I understand that $2,500 is merely a splash in the bucket that is the Syracuse University endowment. But that’s what makes this all the more profane. Providing an essential service to your students shouldn’t require passing around a hat. And yes, in 2015, the ability to power your devices — that connect to this thing we call the Internet, which stores the sum of all human knowledge — is an essential service. I think we all know the function of libraries has shifted from “source of knowledge in the form of books” to “study space that provides ancillary services to further that goal.” Libraries are no longer judged by how many books they house, but rather by how they encourage learning, discovery and teamwork. An increased power supply furthers these goals.

Not only does this anger me, it makes me anxious because it sets a dangerous precedent. What’s next? Asking to fund landscaping on the Hill? Heating and gas bills? These and other essential upgrades/services should be budgeted using existing revenue streams, not a brazen campaign.

So the following is addressed directly to the university: You have 16 days left in this fundraiser. Cut a check and return the money to the 30 selfless people who’ve already pledged to do something you should have done long ago.

Eric Reitz
Syracuse University Class of 2009

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