Has campus changed for the better?


Kernel Opinion SIG

Sarah Ladd

New and returning students alike will face many changes to campus this fall. Alumni from past years might even find parts of campus unrecognizable, as construction is frequent. Despite inconveniences and problematic policies, our campus has mainly changed for the better. 

The past several years have seen several relocations as academic and other campus buildings have been renovated. For journalism students, we’re saying a temporary goodbye to our beloved Grehan so it can undergo some much-needed renovations. This is for the best in the long run, but it will take a lot of adjustment for current students. Incoming freshman may not get to enter Grehan until their sophomore or junior year.

This is a difficult thing for journalism faculty, Kernel staff, and upperclassmen, but our juggling the inconveniences now allows campus to improve for the next batch of students.

Possibly the biggest change to campus is the gradual opening of the Gatton Student Center over the last few months. UK opened its new student center and replaced Bowman’s Den with what will be a green space for students. This is certainly a refreshing positive for returning and new students this fall. Students have lacked a sufficient “hang out” space since 2015, when the temporary Bowman’s Den was constructed while the new student center was built.

The new 378,000 square foot building and the relaxing green space next to the Singletary Center will likely lesson stress for many students. For so long, students have crammed into the tiny Bowman’s Den for lunch with barely room to move and trudged up to the makeshift bookstore. Finally, we have a nice bookstore, food and lounges all under the same spacious roof.

While construction has often added new things to UK’s campus, something has been taken away from the Gatton College of Business building. After John Schnatter’s recent racially insensitive language, UK made the brave and no doubt financially painful decision to sever financial ties with him, which included taking down a sign with his name and photo in Gatton. The Kernel reported in July that Schnatter’s family foundation donated $8 million to the John Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise in the Gatton College of Business, but his name will now be dropped to avoid distractions and hurt for UK students.

In a world and economy that focuses dearly on prestigious connections and stability, our university is to be commended for choosing morals over money in this case. For too long, people in power have been left unchecked and free to spread hate and insensitivity at will thanks to their financial influence. With this decision, our institution is contributing to a new status quo: that love and understanding must always win. Students should never have to study beneath the generosity of racism, sexism or any other type of prejudice, and that is undoubtedly an improvement to the atmosphere on our campus.

So, is campus really better? For the most part, yes. There remains controversy on campus—from meal plan policy to sexual assault regulations to new dorm layouts—but the physical campus experience is certainly improving, creating a modern, comfortable experience for many UK students.