The Crimson White

UA, be for us, by us, not buy us

Sean Randall

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About a week or so ago, I had the privilege of overhearing a conversation being held between a small number of higher-level Bama Dining employees that seemed to be rather upset. The subject? The article run in the Feb. 3 edition of The Crimson White titled “Fresh Food closed weekends for costs.”

Apparently, some of the insinuations made in that article were upsetting. Specifically upsetting to them was the idea that Bama Dining would raise the prices of the Chick-fil-A menu in their food court.

The accuracy of the article is not really what concerned me. As I sat there, eating my sushi and just listening to this bitter condemnation of The CW, there was one thing that really caught my ear.

“Why would The Crimson White bash us like this? We both represent the University. We’re on the same side.”

I thought about the insinuations of that statement for quite a while. And I, very carefully, came to the conclusion that the statement made there is completely, utterly false.

What does The CW represent? It is a student run publication. It is by students, for students. Its purpose is to circulate information, to entertain and to engage the campus in intelligent discourse.

While it is somewhat a member of the face of the University, it is completely free to report on, and even condemn on page 4, any aspect of the University it desires.

Whether or not it successfully does any of this is the decision of the individual reader. But it represents the voice of the student body and other members of this campus more than anything else.

So, what does Bama Dining represent? The University. And it is somewhat painful to realize that there is a gaping difference between the University and the student body.

The University is largely comprised of the student body, yes. And there were perhaps times in which the student body and the University were more closely intertwined. It seems unthinkable that the campus could swing back to a time such as 1847, when the entire student body was expelled.

But, even if the University started with a more personable relationship with the students, somewhere along the line a schism occurred. And now more than ever, it seems the University is no longer an institution of public education, focused on the goodwill of the students, their careers and their successes. The University is clearly a business, and that is what Bama Dining represents.

Bama Dining is not alone in representing the business that is the University of Alabama. Every year, every week, every day, we can see business decisions made with seeming disregard for the student body.

Last year, we had the CrimsonRide bus strike, and the University decided to limit the CrimsonRide schedule. That doesn’t seem to be something that would help students.

We had Lakeside Diner replaced with Maea, a hugely unpopular decision. Follow that up with Maea being replaced by Buffalo Phil’s, the closing of Doster Café, and the limitation of evening hours at Burke Dining Hall and Lakeside Dining Hall. While some positive changes have been made since, it still seems these decisions weren’t very student oriented.

Parking is a huge issue on campus, and yet parking spaces seem to keep disappearing every year, replaced by things like bike and bus lanes, many of which are no longer used, or construction.

Speaking of construction, is there a reason to have so many buildings get prettied up when new facilities seem to be a more important and necessary thing?

A promise made by President Witt to increase the student body size by another substantial amount without seeing the need to increase the academic facilities, parking facilities, dining facilities or residential areas also seems like a business decision, not a student-body-minded one.

There are some clear flaws in the running of this University from the point of view of your average student. Business decisions are being made, and they seem to help no one but the people with pockets to fill.

I am not condemning this University for trying to make money. Money can help academia and the students. Nor am I saying this University is flawed to the point of no return. This is a great university that offers much to the students that attend.

But we’re The University of Alabama. We should strive to be better than we are. Better than great. Changes can happen, should happen. If the student body will spend its time not debasing one another but instead letting those in charge know what we would like to see changed, maybe this University can become something greater than itself.

Sean Randall is a senior majoring in theatre and philosophy.

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UA, be for us, by us, not buy us