April 4, 2011

The greatest student union building of all time.

UW's new Union South:
The opulent, $94.8 million building features a climbing wall, an eight-lane bowling alley, billiards, scores of flat-screen TVs, a 350-seat movie theater, a two-story fireplace, a wine and coffee bar and a banquet hall big enough to seat 1,500 people.
And yet the Memorial Union, the original UW-Madison Union, is still the greatest.

(I know. The word "union." Please don't be distracted.)

116 comments:

Chase said...

Wow! $94 million. At a state college.

Movie Theater.

Wine and Coffee Bar.

Billiards.





Tell me again why we need to raise tuition at State Universities?

traditionalguy said...

Nice designed building. I suppose Student Union Buildings are recruiting tool to impress high school students and their parents.

Freeman Hunt said...

The town doesn't have bowling lanes? There's nowhere to show movies already on campus? No movie theaters in town?

Or are these luxuries run by private businesses who are paying rent for the use of the location?

Tell me again why we need to raise tuition at State Universities?

No kidding.

Lincolntf said...

What's $100 mil for an undergrad Chuck E. Cheese when you've got billions of dollars just laying around to be scooped up? They should build three or four of them. Maybe even a full-scale replica of the Capitol so tweens have a place to practice protesting.
You go, Wisconsin! Don't let the fact that you're destroying your children's lives by spending them into penury distract you from your goal. Slurpees for all!

The Grand Inquisitor said...

UT Austin has had all of this for longer than 99% of her student have been alive.

And it's a waste, because you go across the street for better things to do.

Why not give the students a tuition cut, and let the typical street of college catering shops deal with the private interests of the students? I think the only change really needed in most universities would be to have a special zone for the university police to patrol, that is inhabited with private establishments.

A freakin' bowling alley? Waste.

Thorley Winston said...

In the comments one of the readers claim that this new “playground” (the article’s term, not mine) doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything because supposedly the operating and maintenance costs will be paid for by student fees – what about construction costs?

But even assuming arguendo that the entire cost is being born by the students through their fees (and neither the funding nor the financing is taxpayer subsidized) doesn’t it strike anyone else as wrong that if the University and the students have so much extra dough to spend on this, that they receive any taxpayer funding?

If you have enough money to buy yourself a new toy, then you ought to have enough money to fund your own necessities.

Lincolntf said...

Seriously, the UW system is so flush that they don't "need" taxpayer money to run this adult day-care center?
Good to remember that next time the TA's decided they're being oppressed.

Robert R. said...

God forbid that tuition pays for something nice that undergrads not old enough to go to bars can use for social activities, studying, and eating. Legal social activities at that. Especially something that's convenient for engineering students and the lakeshore residence halls. The people complaining about the Student Unions obviously never attended UW.

I'd agree with Ann that Memorial Union is still the better union. You can't duplicate Lake Mendota.

Dave D said...

Tuition:

The new slavery.......

ricpic said...

Well, it ain't ascetic. Bread and circuses. Which don't go with learning. Because those who love learning don't want or need a lavish setting to come together and learn in. But then it must be naive of me to think that that's what a university is about -- love of learning. Yeah, that's it, naive.

Robert R. said...

I think it's clear that many are commenting that clearly are ignorant of UW-Madison geography. Particularly the southwest portion of campus. There are no bowling alleys, movie theaters, etc. in that area. Except for the bowling alleys at the old Union South. That area contains Camp Randall, many bars, principally around Regent Street, and acres and acres of residential/student housing.

Phil 3:14 said...

a wine and coffee bar

Uhh, does the University really need to create a venue that can theoretically only serve the senior class?

I didn't see where the sign-making workshops are?

AJ Lynch said...

Thorley:

Ha- as if the student fees just materialize out of thin air when , in fact, they are paid out of the parents' checkbook.

Calypso Facto said...

Nothing like an "opulent" new "playground" to gall hardworking students and parents battling rapidly rising education costs.

The project's website says no tax dollars went into construction, but what about the opportunity costs of the UW general fund money, the student fees, and the union operating profits that COULD HAVE been used to reduce user expenses, or God forbid!, reduce gov't contributions?

The Grand Inquisitor said...

I wonder, what are the study halls like in the engineering buildings? What are the bathrooms like in the gym?

They had better be perfect, if UW can blow cash on goofy bowling alleys.

The truth is that with student loan guarantees, tuition can explode, and universities have to compete for naive freshmen with bling instead of low tuition : job prospects.

Some states will overhaul this problem, and some will dig in and make it worse. Forward thinking schools where you can get a bowling alley free education for less than the price of a small car will have all the smartest students who understood the penalties of a UW style education.

Robert said...

Robert R, what exactly is your point? That since all of the niceties of suburban life happen not to exist nearby the campus, it's the responsibility of UW to provide it?

UW exists to provide a quality education and a place for research. Living at home with mom and dad is for that other shit. And a UW student can still do that other shit during the summers.

It's four years of higher education, not 13th through 16th grade.

Leland said...

UT Austin has had all of this for longer than 99% of her student have been alive.

Yeah, Texas A&M too, but still I routinely met juniors and seniors that lived on campus (pretty rare, as the campus tended to push upper classmen off campus) that didn't know the MSC had a bowling alley or showed movies. The off-campus students almost never came on campus for such activities, and that's understandable, because the B/CS bowling alley's and movie theaters had free parking that was next to the building.

ic said...

The students who have come thru that Union are looking forward to unemployment or high taxes if they are employed to pay for that $94 million montrosity.

Those who work hard for a relevant degree will have no time to enjoy the two storys fire place, those who have time to bask in the luxuries are not employable.

Sofa King said...

They are running a special for lifetime membership for alumni...a tempting offer, but as I live in Milwaukee I doubt I would get my money's worth...

Robert R. said...

UW's mission has never ended at the classroom doors. Nor it's goal of attracting quality students. Amenities for students are part of how colleges compete for students. I know, competition is such a communist term.

UW is not a commuter school. Never has been. The vast majority of students live on campus or nearby. And the UW has taken an interest in making sure that there's a safe social life available to students. Because it does matter.

I suppose everybody that's complaining spent a completely spartan existence in college.

Frankly, Camp Randall and the former Field House and the need for housing around the University have effectively driven out many options for that area.

Heck, you might as well argue that Wisconsin should tear down all the residence halls and cafeterias as well. My god, some of these residence halls have ping pong tables and arcades and such. And gardens! And ball fields! And walking trails along the lake! How dare they! It's like the UW actually wants students to find the college experience enjoyable as well as educational.

madAsHell said...

The OTHER UW (Washington) has announced a strategy to accept more out-of-state students...cuz out-of-state tuition is higher. You need to understand this means the Chinese, and not Oregon or Idaho students.

There are entire dorm buildings speaking Chinese.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014670294_admissions03m.html

PaulV said...

How many sex offenders can $93,000,000 catch?

rocketeer67 said...

NINETY-FOUR. MILLION. DOLLARS.

How many ping pong tables do you think that'll buy, Robert R?

I don't begrudge students a place to hang out and have some fun. But this new union? Pure, profligate lunacy.

edutcher said...

Stuff like this is for the Administration, so whomever it was that got it approved can say, "Look at our wonderful, modern campus (it was MY idea, you know)."

Thorley Winston said...

UW's mission has never ended at the classroom doors. Nor it's goal of attracting quality students. Amenities for students are part of how colleges compete for students. I know, competition is such a communist term.


I think that ic put it best, the real “quality students” are the ones studying relevant degrees and who have more productive things to do with their time than hang out at the student union.

And no, it’s not really “competition” when you need to have your costs paid for by the taxpayer. If they want to compete on the basis of “amenities for students” (as opposed to employment opportunities for their graduates and lower tuition costs), then cut them off from the public trough and let they and their students pick up the full cost. We’ll see then how much the market really values these “amenities.”

Triangle Man said...

I would suggest looking what the Wisconsin Union is and getting information about how the new Union South was financed before getting too worked up about tuition costs.

Ignatz said...

They needed a fancier building with better hotel accommodations across the street from the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery / Morgridge Institute for Reseach (WID/MIR - Morgridge is the CISCO guy).

Way to big for the patch of land into which it is crammed, with its combination of Prairie and Reptilian architecture, the new Union South is one ugly wedding cake of a building.

How many generations of student loans not yet co-signed will be paying for this monstrosity?

Robert said...

@ Robert R.:

Dorms and cafeterias are a necessity because all resident students require sleep and nutrition.

It is ridiculous to compare a ping pong table to a $94M building built more for student entertainment than anything. There are plenty of smart kids from modest households who don't require the existence of a Taj Mahal to student leisure time in order to gravitate to UW. It's possible to attract a quality student without the need to pander in order to do so.

Calypso Facto said...

UW is not a commuter school.

Don't know your definition of course, but with only 8,000 beds for 42,000 students, I'd say most come to campus from somewhere else. Somewhere that's very likely to have existing bowling alleys and movie theaters. Plus parking!

I hope my son enjoys himself while using the Hell out of the place now that it's up. But I can't help thinking that with UW costs already outpacing inflation by 300% and Chancellor Martin promising a MINIMUM 8.5% tuition increase for next year, that maybe someone, somewhere in the system would be keeping an eye on costs...

Triangle Man said...

I think that ic put it best, the real “quality students” are the ones studying relevant degrees and who have more productive things to do with their time than hang out at the student union.

Yes! Everyone should be an engineer. Let's make it a law.

Ignatz said...

Have people forgot the Union South that was torn down to make the new Union South? A perfectly serviceable building that saw its most regular use during SOAR. It too had a bowling alley, restaurants, meeting rooms. They tore it down to make a new one. Its not for the students this was done; the south campus area needed better University provided hotel rooms for visiting dignitaries and scientists. The top floor is a hotel. The prior Union building also had hotel rooms, but not as many and not as nice. Don't think this is about the students.

Lincolntf said...

Triangle Man

I went to your link and saw some shopping tips, a few fancy photos and a big honking "Division of Social Education" logo along with a copyrighted "The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System" legalism.
So tell me again about the magic money. And get me another fuckin' Slurpee.

Triangle Man said...

Don't know your definition of course, but with only 8,000 beds for 42,000 students, I'd say most come to campus from somewhere else. Somewhere that's very likely to have existing bowling alleys and movie theaters. Plus parking!

There are 29,000 undergraduates. Those not in dorms typically live in rentals near campus. In the article Althouse linked, one student was commenting on how welcome it would be to not have to walk 8 blocks to State St. for food.

Ignatz said...

...one student was commenting on how welcome it would be to not have to walk 8 blocks to State St. for food.

Hmmm... not sure about that student. He/she could walk two blocks to Regent St for better food than found on State. And that person has obviously never eaten Union food.

Anglelyne said...

Another day, another story about the seriously delusional state of people in control of American institutions, in this case public higher education. I guess the sellers in a bubble are always the last ones to grasp the concept of "unsustainable". (Coincidentally, I just came over from the article madAsHell references - yet another in the endless parade of examples of state public universities which have become a bit confused about their purpose.)

Robert R: God forbid that tuition pays for something nice...

Yeah, 'cause the purpose of a public university is to price itself out of the reach of ordinary citizens (what are tuition increases running at in this era of stagnating wages - 5 times the rate of inflation is it?), and to kick residents (and citizens) to the curb in order to "compete" for students who can shell out the big bucks.

Triangle Man said...

@lincoltf

You could join the union and use the facility yourself you know. I think it's $250 for a lifetime membership if you are not affiliated with UW.

Each student will pay $200 per year in fees to cover 58% of the construction costs. Funds from donors cover 24% of costs. Program revenue covers 18%. Tuition is not involved. More detailed information here.

Triangle Man said...

@lincoltf

You could join the union and use the facility yourself you know. I think it's $250 for a lifetime membership if you are not affiliated with UW.

Each student will pay $200 per year in fees to cover 58% of the construction costs. Funds from donors cover 24% of costs. Program revenue covers 18%. Tuition is not involved. More detailed information here.

rocketeer67 said...

Each student will pay $200 per year in fees to cover 58% of the construction costs. Funds from donors cover 24% of costs. Program revenue covers 18%. Tuition is not involved. More detailed information here.

Ah, yes. "Fees." Not "tuition" at all! Unlike "tuition," "fees" are totally voluntary. You can skip paying them and stroll right on into class. Right?

Graduated from UW, did you TM? I'd have thought that somewhere along the way, you might have run across the word "fungible," or the phrase "distinction without a difference."

TosaGuy said...

Just imagine how much college would cost if it only provided an education, not an upper middle-class lifestyle.

MadisonMan said...

I appreciate that the new Union South will re-open. I've missed a close vendor for Babcock Ice Cream.

You can really tell in this thread who has never been to the UW. There is severe clue-lacking in evidence.

Thorley Winston said...

In the article Althouse linked, one student was commenting on how welcome it would be to not have to walk 8 blocks to State St. for food.

Then the student should pack a bag lunch and bring it with them to class. I did that when I lived off campus and it was a lot quicker (and cheaper) than waiting in line to buy a prepared meal.

Triangle Man said...

@Rocketeer

Whether or not you agree with having a facility like this, it is clearly not related to increases in tuition in the past or future that are indicative of a 'higher ed bubble'. At least with the way this is structured, prospective students can decide if they want to pay a fee to attend a place with a frivolous devotion to life outside the classroom like UW - Madison, or go somewhere with a more no-nonsense approach.

rocketeer67 said...

You can really tell in this thread who has never been to the UW. There is severe clue-lacking in evidence.

Oh, I've spent a fair amount of time at UW, and spent most of it on the south side of the campus. It's not the existence of the new Union South that's questionable, it's the fact that it's beyond gilded.

Triangle Man said...

Oh, I've spent a fair amount of time at UW, and spent most of it on the south side of the campus. It's not the existence of the new Union South that's questionable, it's the fact that it's beyond gilded.

They had to make up for 4 decades of the old Union South.

Glenn Howes said...

I recently read a fairly mediocre book called "DIY Education" and seems as if the point of such boondoggles is to justify expense increases far above inflation at universities both public and private. Time and again, university administrators are quoted along the lines of that students demand tanning salons, rock climbing walls, etc, and that's why universities are filled with such things.

It's as if they have to pile things on or they will go a year with no reason for cost per student to go up 10%.

I used to spend quite a bit of my time at the old Union South, and it seemed pretty reasonable for spending time between classes. I don't know what the situation is now, but there used to be a fair number of places to get lunch along Regent Street.

The Grand Inquisitor said...

"I did that when I lived off campus and it was a lot quicker (and cheaper) than waiting in line to buy a prepared meal."

Amen. Frankly, this is a bit of an intelligence test. People who can't plan ahead to bring lunch are dumber than those who would even consider walking 8 blocks to buy some Chipotle.

You need that time to study. If you don't need that time to study, then your workload sucks and your university experience is an abject failure.

There are a lot of schools like this, where people make stupid financial decisions and have an extremely lazy college experience. They don't read 200 pages a day or write long papers or do research, but rather enjoy luxurious campuses while paying for it with huge, unforgivable loans.

They sneer at the idea of 'commuter campuses', as though those schools aren't superior.

It's time for the best students to be directed towards the most effective educations. $10,000 for an entire degree from a challenging institution that doesn't bother with a bowling alley, but rather works hard to combine classrooms with the internet.

All you really need are academic standards to make a degree valuable. Let the students who are afraid of that take on the huge debt and play bowling while drunk. I suspect in a generation most of those guys will be in blue states.

Methadras said...

The level of opulence for something to cater to students while school tuition's nationwide are through the roof leaves one scratching their heads.

Calypso Facto said...

I'd have thought that somewhere along the way, you might have run across the word "fungible,"

Nor economic cost, apparently.

You're not sympathetic to the user fee or taxpayer complaint Triangle? Ok, how about this: with that $18 million dollars (give or take) the UW could have paid TA/RA increased health insurance contributions in perpetuity. So is it fair to say that renovating the Union is more important to the UW administration than graduate assistant health insurance contributions?

Triangle Man said...

It's time for the best students to be directed towards the most effective educations. $10,000 for an entire degree from a challenging institution that doesn't bother with a bowling alley, but rather works hard to combine classrooms with the internet.

Let's see your top 10 list.

rocketeer67 said...

At least with the way this is structured, prospective students can decide if they want to pay a fee to attend a place with a frivolous devotion to life outside the classroom like UW - Madison, or go somewhere with a more no-nonsense approach.

So planners were faced with the stark choice between nothing, or this $94MM monument to upper-middle-class slackerdom? There was no possibility of something more modest, that might have been built without saddling prospective students with an additional $200 "fee?"

Regardless of the financing arrangements, I'd say this is a perfect exemplar of the problem with higher education today.

Triangle Man said...

Ok, how about this: with that $18 million dollars (give or take) the UW could have paid TA/RA increased health insurance contributions in perpetuity.

It's difficult to count the ways in which that is a fallacious argument, but let me try. First, the financing plan was decided years ago (and voted on by the students at the time), well before there was a Governor Walker, much less a Budget Repair Bill. Second, it assumes that program revenue from the Union flows to the operating budget of the University. I suspect that it not the case.

Triangle Man said...

So planners were faced with the stark choice between nothing, or this $94MM monument to upper-middle-class slackerdom? There was no possibility of something more modest, that might have been built without saddling prospective students with an additional $200 "fee?"

I heard that this design was the compromise position between a Culvers and the $200 million dollar palace that the Administration really wanted.

SteveR said...

But for Student Loan Debt..

Triangle Man said...

$10,000 for an entire degree

Is that you Governor Perry? He wants a $10,000 BA including text books. That indicates to me that no one is offering it.

roesch-voltaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert R. said...

The UW is a bargain. Including fees.

It probably would surprise people that students voted in favor of this. Darn that democracy. And that engineers benefit most.

The Union is a 100 year old institution at UW. It's beyond clear how many are completely ignorant of how successful it's been. And how engrained in campus life.

Calypso Facto said...

I know that the timing of the specific argument was an impossibility, TM, I'm just saying (with an example to catch your attention/sympathy?) that these enormous expenditures have both direct and opportunity costs that drive up the overall price of attending the UW Madison, and may even adversely affect quality by diverting funds from other, and possibly better, educational uses.

rocketeer67 said...

It probably would surprise people that students voted in favor of this.

Of course they would - someone else is subsidizing it, be it their parents...or me, through student loans.

The Union is a 100 year old institution at UW. It's beyond clear how many are completely ignorant of how successful it's been. And how engrained in campus life.

Only 100? Perhaps you're unaware that UW is not the only campus with an effective and beloved union?

Ren said...

I'm amazed at the blatant ignorance of so many of the commenters. Wait, no I'm not. Yeah, we built a really nice, new building. You all can bitch all you want, but unless you went to a shitty college or failed to attend one at all, something like this isn't out of the ordinary. Any of the top public schools you go to will have buildings like this, so it's not like we're some sort of bizarre outlier.

The only reason AA posts this stuff is to get a reaction from her crazy commenters. Guess what? It's working.

Calypso Facto said...

RobertR: Only about 4% of the students voted in favor of this renovation. Not exactly a mandate.

Ren said...

Calypso,

This isn't a renovation, it's an entirely new building. Also, you obviously don't live anywhere near Madison or know anything about the school. This is not a commuter school. Almost every undergrad (and most of the grad students) live right off campus. Living a few blocks away from the school doesn't make it a commuter school.

Ren said...

Calypso,

6% of the student body voted. There was nothing about "only 4%" voting in favor of it. It's nice to see you pull random shit out of your ass and expect everyone to take it as fact.

Glenn Howes said...

Robert, I don't think you are realizing that many of the people criticizing the expenditure seem to be UW graduates. Like I said, I've spent many an hour at the old Union South, it was fine. I might have even bowled there twice in my life. It wasn't part of my reasoning for attending UW; the fact that at the time UW had a top 10 Chemistry program did.

Now apparently, the University has other priorities.

rocketeer67 said...

Any of the top public schools you go to will have buildings like this, so it's not like we're some sort of bizarre outlier.

Apparently, you fail to see that THIS IS IN FACT THE VERY PROBLEM.

Crazy commenters, indeed!

rocketeer67 said...

6% of the student body voted. There was nothing about "only 4%" voting in favor of it.

6% instead of 4%, you say? Well, that changes everything.

Ren said...

6% instead of 4%, you say? Well, that changes everything.

Read closer, silly. There's a huge difference between 6% voting (a majority of that 6% voting in favor of the bill) and 4% voting in favor of it. Only 6% of the student body voted, but the majority of that 6% voted in favor of it. The notion that 96% of the school voted against it is an outright lie.

Triangle Man said...

@Calypso

I don't disagree with you in principle about costs of education. However, I think much of the general grousing about this particular building is misplaced.

Could it have been done for less money? Probably, but buildings are expensive and large buildings are more expensive and this building is going to serve a large community of users, so it's going to be 10s of millions of dollars. The new Lakeshore dorm UW is building will cost $60 million including renovating the older dorms. The second of three Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research buildings will cost $134 million (on top of $180 million for the first).

Peano said...

What an abomination.

Triangle Man said...

Now apparently, the University has other priorities.

Really, how does the University rank these days?

Calypso Facto said...

Renovation, replacement, whatever. I'll admit to not being invested when the project began. Now however, I do live in Madison, have a son at the UW, at am on campus several times a week. As far as I can tell, I'm the only one commenting here so far with actual skin in this game. (Except MadisonMan and his ice cream, which I do not begrudge him!)

I think the new building is fantastic! As I said, I hope my son enjoys using it all the time. I just don't like hearing that next year's fees, expenses, and tuition will go up at somewhere between 400-1300 x the current CPI to support extravagance rather than education. These are not consequence-free economic decisions.

Lincolntf said...

Good Lord, for a State that is so unproductive (and worse, completely anti-diversity in population), the Lefties love them some Wisconsin.
It's like Civil Rights-era Mississippi without all the annoying principles and sacrifice.
If William Seward were still alive, I bet he'd trick Canada into buying your sorry asses.

Robert R. said...

Is $94 million a lot of money and could something more modest have been built? Of course.

However a lot of people are acting like its a crime for any money to be spent, even non-tuition money, on the unions. And it's clear many haven't the slighest clue about even the basic geography of UW.

Heck, I think they're ignorant of Wisconsin culture if they think a bowling alley is a luxury.

Calypso Facto said...

Jesus, Ren, hyperventilate much?

6% voted, 4% in favor (1671 students), and 2% against (900 students). I'm just saying that when people whip out the "but the students voted!" argument, it may not be as strong as they think. Much less the moral hazard presented by many of those 1,671 not actually paying their own fees...

Triangle Man said...

Good Lord, for a State that is so unproductive

I think you have mistaken Wisconsin for Illinois.

roesch-voltaire said...

For a fair comparison you might want to check out the new HUB and other student centers at the University of Washington, a competitor with us for research funds. The first time I visited that campus, I was taken back by how much better built their buildings were, including a huge food court in their student union. Or go to Iowa City, and discover the up to date movie theater that puts our small, old venue in the Union to shame. I could go on with other Big Ten examples. And I will add my support Robert's statement by noting I was surprised by how many of my engineering students joined the bowling leagues and used the old Union South, and are looking forward to the new South.

Calypso Facto said...

RobertR: But is a bowling alley without beer really a Wisconsin bowling alley?!? :)

Lincolntf said...

"I think you have mistaken Wisconsin for Illinois."

No, that was the WI Senators (D-Rockford).

Thorley Winston said...

6% of the student body voted. There was nothing about "only 4%" voting in favor of it.

Read the comments in the article:

“2:1 margin? Don't think so. From the Union's own website: "...the Initiative passed by about 600 votes, 1671 to 900" (www.unionvote.wisc.edu/faq.html) And even for student elections, you have to admit that's a pretty poor turnout. That was less than 7% of the student body.


As a student there at the time, many of us found it odd that magically passed the third time after failing by nearly the same magins previously. Most of us, however, didn't care, since we would have graduated before the bill would begin to be passed on to the student body.”


So basically (a) after losing two prior elections that were conducted online, (b) a third vote was conducted requiring people to vote in person which (c) lead to a voter turnout of about 6 percent of the total student body in which (d) about 4 percent of the students voted in favor of the project and (e) lead to a rule change that any future construction projects will require at least a 15 percent student turnout.

Triangle Man said...

No, that was the WI Senators (D-Rockford).

LOL. At least you sometimes make a funny, even if you never post anything of substance.

Phil 3:14 said...

Robert;
it probably would surprise people that students voted in favor of this. Darn that democracy.

I assume you appreciate the difficulty with applying the word democracy to this vote.

I can think of any number of things I could get a group to overwhelming vote for if they didn't have to pay for it. I could call that a lot of things, but I wouldn't call democracy

But given much of what's gone on recently in Madison it does fit the expression:

This is what democracy looks like!

TosaGuy said...

Certainly is a very boring piece of architecture for $94 million.

Lincolntf said...

"...of substance"?

Gently fuck me with a chainsaw.
If I wanted to post "substance" I wouldn't be kicking turds like you around on topics like subsidized bowling.
Get a grip.

Triangle Man said...

QED

Leo Ladenson said...

Higher ed used to be like a seminary or a monastery. Discipline, study, work, prayer.

Now it's like the mall culture. Consume, work-out, hook-up, eat, sleep, and be merry.

Just another index of decline.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Is $94 million a lot of money and could something more modest have been built? Of course.

And yet, it wasn't

However a lot of people are acting like its a crime for any money to be spent, even non-tuition money, on the unions. And it's clear many haven't the slighest clue about even the basic geography of UW.

It isn't about the geography, it is the economics of the entire situation.

In a time when college is being priced out of reach for most people; and when many students and their parents are taking on crushing debt to pay for higher and higher priced college educations....the spending on such a level on a lavish frippery, a playground for adult children is the issue.

Instead of keeping costs down so that more people can be educated or get a degree (not always the same thing) the College spends on something that is NOT a necessity.

Lincolntf said...

DBQ is ignoring the most fundamental tenet of modern self-enriching Leftism; If you make enough people think you deserve something, it becomes a Right.

Pogo said...

The building seems like one of the last McMansions built in a suburb development, right before housing went into a tailspin.

When will the college bubble pop?
Soon, I think.

The smaller private colleges will die first. Wisconsin can print debt for awhile, at least the state unions think so.

But their students cannot.

Borrowing will get more difficult; some students will be afraid to borrow, and some parents won't be able to co-sign.

It all seems so precarious to me.

garage mahal said...

I'm concerned!

Pogo said...

"The economic downturn of 2008–2009 will exaggerate the fundamental problems facing American higher education and make them more difficult to address, let alone reverse or attenuate. The downward ratchet in attendance decisions will make the selective sector more socially exclusive. Conversely, enrollment pressures at open-access institutions, even while public funds to support those institutions are being withdrawn, seem destined to compromise quality.

Academic research and graduate education have endured the crisis better than other sectors, but here the danger lies in the not-too-distant future. The most distinguished universities, which largely support scientific excellence, have ceased to expand their research capacity, and this strategy has ominous implications. Federal research funding has been artificially inflated with stimulus funds. This has buoyed academic research for the current year or two, but cutbacks almost certainly lie in the future. If public support for research declines in the way public support for higher education has, the future will indeed be bleak.
"
Impact of the Financial Crisis on Higher Education in the US

Geiger, Roger

Center for International Higher Education
Publication Date: 2010
https://htmldbprod.bc.edu/pls/htmldb/f?p=2290:4:2985393850819190::NO:RP,4:P0_CONTENT_ID:109950

Mike and Sue said...

Gee. Makes really want to donate more money to UW when they call me for an alumni handout every year. Oh please yes can I write you another check to subsidize ponytail professors, who tear down Western Civilization?

Pogo said...

"Policymakers at the schools that educate three-quarters of America's 18.2 million college students are eyeing more layoffs, eliminating degree programs and campuses, and giving slots to higher-paying students from outside home states.
Governors in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Washington, Texas, California and at least another 15 states are seeking steep cuts in aid to higher education. Since the U.S. recession began in late 2007, 43 state governments have already cut aid to state university systems.
"Our higher ed system is at the breaking point," Washington state Rep. Larry Seaquist said during a state House hearing on cutting aid to Washington's four-year state colleges. "It just looks like wall-to-wall problems.

Tuition increases after America's housing bust will be difficult to implement, the Moody's analysts said, since home equity for many U.S. families, as well as their net worths, have fallen.
"The sustained decline of home values will continue to impact the higher education sector for years to come by preventing some families from using their homes as collateral to borrow to cover the rising cost of attending college," they said.
"

By Michael Connor |
Reuters – Thu, Mar 31, 2011

http://my.news.yahoo.com/feature-budget-cuts-pummel-public-colleges-u-standing-20110330-142930-305.html

Pogo said...

'UNC President Erskine Bowles said Thursday proposed budget cuts to universities would cut at its “academic core.”

“We’re going to lose hundreds of people, and it’s going to hurt this university,” Bowles said at a Board of Governors meeting. “It’s going to hurt our academic core.”

Bowles said Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposed state budget reduces spending at the system’s 16 campuses by $195 million in the next academic year, or about 6.4 percent at each campus.

Since employee costs make up about 75 percent of the system’s expenses, Bowles said there would be no way around eliminating vacant positions and laying off staff and faculty.

“We’re going to lose 400 [to] 500 folks,” Bowles
"




But garage is not worried.

Pogo said...

ATLANTA - "State universities are at risk of hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts.

Governor Sonny Perdue has said budget cuts to the state's higher education system called for by state lawmakers go way too far.

The state's 35 public colleges and universities are bracing for as much as $565 million.
"

Garage?
Unconcerned.

The Grand Inquisitor said...

"unless you went to a shitty college or failed to attend one at all, something like this isn't out of the ordinary. Any of the top public schools you go to will have buildings like this, so it's not like we're some sort of bizarre outlier."

Sooooooo hysterical you are.

We realize that major universities waste money on stupid crap like this, and have since the 1960s or so. We realize that it's defended by people like you who say without this kind of bowling alley and beer drinking, a college is "shitty". We realize this kind of thing sucks money out of idiots who aren't studying, but rather living a mall lifestyle while incurring substantial debt.

We're saying that general problem, which is widespread, is inferior to universities that are focused on educating students in fields society needs. English majors sucking down $6 cups of coffee and playing state funded bowling are freaking losers. They may think they are proving their university isn't shitty, but states like Texas are waking up to a more practical and smart system of education.

Hordes of the brightest Wisconsin kids will become Texan engineers if we have $10,000 degrees with no bowling fee. Guess what that means: you won't have the tax base to support your bloated public sector unions! Without that money, retirement checks will simply not be sent!

Texas has its own bloat in public sector. It's nowhere near as bad as many states, and it's countered by our superior ability to think ahead and attract the best workers in this country.

Sucker.

Thorley Winston said...

Policymakers at the schools that educate three-quarters of America's 18.2 million college students are eyeing more layoffs, eliminating degree programs and campuses, and giving slots to higher-paying students from outside home states.


Am I the only one who doesn’t think that it’s necessarily a bad idea for schools that are supported by taxpayers to prioritize which degree programs they, or rather we the taxpayers, fund?

It’s one thing to say that we should publicly finance degree programs in math, engineering or the hard sciences because these degree programs lead to innovations in science and technology. Grievance-based cultural studies? Not so much.

I’m increasingly seeing the wisdom of those who have questioned whether going college is over-emphasized in our culture. Getting a generic college degree may in fact make you eligible for a job that lists a college degree as one of its prerequisites (hint: if it doesn’t specify what type of degree, that’s usually a pretty good sign that someone without a degree could probably do the job just as well) but that doesn’t mean that the degree itself has added value. It just means that job qualifications have been inflated because of the expectation that everyone should go to college.

Maybe instead of seeing this as a “crisis,” we should see the shortage of taxpayer dollars as an “opportunity” to reprioritize where higher education – and what kind of higher education.

Lincolntf said...

Yeah, if you went to a public University the concept of $100 million Kiddie-Kare facilities is familiar to you.
If you went somewhere where education is the utmost priority, not so much.

Freeman Hunt said...

Just in case anyone is looking for one, you can, in fact, get a bachelor's degree for less than $10,000 from an excellent school.

University of London International Programmes

Craig said...

Well. That's just disgusting.

Leland said...

But Freeman, does that school have a D1 Football Program? What about a place to hang out before the games? Can I at least go bowling on campus?

Because you know, those are the things that attract students from diverse areas!

Ren said...

There is nothing "superior" about the way Texans think. In fact, most would argue that your state falls near the bottom of this country's intelligence pole. Texas has UT-Austin...and, well, that's about it. I can't see any students bashing down the doors at Baylor so they can go to school in Waco. I know it's hard to believe, but there are a lot of things besides money that attract students.

Anyways, enjoy your magical belief that Texas is awesome. Your public school system is a national joke...much like your entire state. Go execute some more innocent prisoners, I'm sure it'll make you feel better.

Robert R. said...

RobertR: But is a bowling alley without beer really a Wisconsin bowling alley?!? :)


Good question, although last time I checked you could buy beer in Union South. If not, why is UW building a bowling alley not up to minimum State requirements?

Frankly, I think some of the "sticker shock" is not appreciating the scale of UW. With 50K students and faculty, it's a good size Wisconsin city unto itself. Factor in that the Union is designed to provide services to the student population, faculty, alumni, guests, visitors, and those that just want Babcock ice cream and it's going to be a large structure. Further figure in a calculation for facilities of something along the lines of 50,000 students @ $100/semester x 40 years of service life, and you'll quickly see why the facility is so expensive.

The good news is that presumably the service fees have already taken effect since the issueance of bonds and future increases won't be necessary. I'll not argue that the election wasn't set up so that it would pass, but welcome to the real world where bond issues are set up the same way.

And, if you send your kids off to UW, frankly hearing that they're spending their social free time at one of the Unions should be good news to you.

Michael said...

I think it is splendid and one of few things you can point to at the university that has value to the students and for which their tuition is well aimed. I believe they should hand out diplomas on the first day of school and get on with teaching those who came to learn.

MadisonMan said...

I can't wait 'til Althouse posts a picture of the new Gordon Commons.

MadisonMan said...

Union South is also a gathering place pre-football. Alumni stand around and listen to the band before the game (unless they're waiting in line at Mickie's)

The old Union South had hotel rooms -- I think this one does too. And I'm sure you can get beer there. It won't be as cozy as the Red Oak Grille, I'm guessing.

The Grand Inquisitor said...

"Anyways, enjoy your magical belief that Texas is awesome. Your public school system is a national joke...much like your entire state. Go execute some more innocent prisoners, I'm sure it'll make you feel better."

Jeeez, man, I'm offering constructive criticism.

The truth is that students who go too far into debt for many fields of education, even at elite schools like UT Austin, may not be making an intelligent decision. And since Texas is trying to experiment with much cheaper college educations, a lot of intelligent students are going to come to Texas. And when that happens, Texas will enjoy a better tax base of property owners.

As to your hatred of Texas public school education, the truth is that we are a huge success. A white student in Texas is better educated. A black student in Texas is better educated. A hispanic ESL student is also better educated.

The difference is that Texas does see a huge number of ESL students, so if you are dishonest with statistics, those students drag down our averages. The actual truth is that Texas is far more successful educationally than Wisconsin is.

this is a serious issue, and you shouldn't fly into hysterics of hatred of the hard working state of Texas over it. http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/opinions_on_education/149535.html

Another wonderfully superior way Texans think is that we have a many billion dollar rainy day fund. We've saved money, unlike blue states. Thanks to the economic problems, we have a deficit, but instead of burning through the rainy day fund for a short term win for politicians, we are cutting spending all across the board. The rainy day fund is for true emergencies.

Things that would knock your state on her ass will not hurt Texas nearly as much, because we simply planned for rainy days.

There's nothing wrong with an elite university, but the truth of the matter is that a lot of very smart people would jump at the chance for a great education without the bloated expenses that UW (And UT Austin, or Texas Tech, or TAMU, etc etc) pile on. The states that offer that chance will see a flood of the best and brightest... the kinds of students who are smart enough to avoid huge student debt will also avoid home foreclosure (already very low in Texas!). Of course, Texas already sees a flood of educated and successful Americans from blue states. Most of them came here to reject big government, making blue states bluer, sadly.

You think personal responsibility is hard and ugly, but it's actually the easiest way to live! God Bless Texas!

Robert R. said...

With the patents that UW owns and the money they bring in, I think a lot of people will be surprised at how reasonable UW is in regards to tuition. Granted, it's not cheap, but it certainly is on the low side of comparable schools.

Triangle Man said...

Yeah, if you went to a public University the concept of $100 million Kiddie-Kare facilities is familiar to you.
If you went somewhere where education is the utmost priority, not so much.


Where do you think education the utmost priority?

The Grand Inquisitor said...

"Granted, it's not cheap, but it certainly is on the low side of comparable schools."

You're probably right that it's not out of step, but then, a lot of comparable schools have similar taj mahal student unions and low academic standards for undergrads.

Can you get a 4 year degree for $10k? Of course not, and a lot of people in the academy think that would actually be a bad thing if you could.

Student loans have allowed the entire cost of being a student to explode. That's the student's fault, first and foremost, but it's if a state wants to attract the smartest, most forward thinking students... the kind who would love to avoid debt, and are therefore superior citizens, they should reform their state schools to be dirt cheap with excellent academic standards.

By no means is UW unusual for having multiple wonderful student union facilities.

Lincolntf said...

"Where do you think education the utmost priority?"

In your case, wherever they teach grammar.
Maybe you can take an extension class or something.

Robert R. said...

While I'm not going to defend the rising costs of tuition for higher education as a whole, there are plenty of ways to save and earn money to limit the amount you need on loan for a college education. They involve getting off your ass and not playing video games all summer.

I earned my way through college by working in a freezer warehouse at 25 below during the summer. A couple of my friends worked on fishing boats in Alaska.

I certainly realize that tuition has outstripped inflation since I've been in college, and the economy isn't good at present, but having some economic sense about where you can actually afford to go isn't the worst thing for students to learn. Universities aren't immune to the laws of supply and demand and if students stop applying, they'll wise up.

Calypso Facto said...

A freezer warehouse in WI, RobertR? I know most of those guys... Tough work.

I agree that UW is still not (yet)unaffordable...I'd just like to keep it that way! It won't take many years of the promised 26% increases to drive it out of reach for most Wisconsinites. And as you say over on Al's Ramblings: it's a spending problem, not a revenue problem!

The Grand Inquisitor said...

"Universities aren't immune to the laws of supply and demand and if students stop applying, they'll wise up."

Indeed. They are businesses. They cater to customers. It's not UW's fault that the best way to get customers today is to have a ridiculous union, or that some people think this is sensible because that side of campus lacks a bowling alley, and calls schools without such facilities "shitty" (in this thread, for example).

UW wants those students because they are worth many tens of thousands of dollars, but making decisions with delayed financial consequences.

Sure, the smart students would love a better option, but what option is that? Community college? They don't offer the education you need for many professions, and often lack the rigor (though my community college in the Army was harder than the universities I attended later, until I went to law school).

What we need are inexpensive options that offer the complete education, with sufficient standards that the degree means a lot (and thus it would probably mean a lot more than a UW degree does).

Right now, this is merely an initiative, but once it becomes a reality, the education bubble will burst. Some academics will probably not get their pensions. Some beautiful bowling alleys will have to shut down or change ownership.

Triangle Man said...

Here's something to get worked up about. The building was constructed using green / sustainable / whatever principles. The cost per square foot is $235. That's mighty high. I don't know what bowling alleys and movie theaters cost to construct, but office space and retail space is about $125 per square foot.

Triangle Man said...

What we need are inexpensive options that offer the complete education, with sufficient standards that the degree means a lot (and thus it would probably mean a lot more than a UW degree does).


University of Phoenix has the efficient delivery model that could provide this on the cheap, but they still get $40,000 for a BA.

Glenn Howes said...

As it happens UW Chemistry's graduate program is still in the top 10 as ranked by US News, although Columbia is nipping at its heels. This wouldn't have been the measure I would have used when I applied in 1989, as USNews didn't start ranking graduate programs till 1990, as I recall at the time UW was at least in the top 5 back then on whatever scale I had available.

Triangle Man said...

University of Phoenix has the efficient delivery model that could provide this on the cheap, but they still get $40,000 for a BA

Oops. That's wrong. I based it on too few credits. A BA at U. Phoenix is more like 120 credits. So, $550 per credit for online courses times 120 is $66,000 plus the technology fees add another $4,000-5,000. Not a super bargain for the online-only route.