Our View: WSU merits new science lab

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 3:24 PM

Editorial Board

We urge Gov. Gary Herbert to heed the advice of the State Board of Regents and recommend that $60.9 million be allocated toward building a new science lab building at Weber State University.

We’re not unaware that $60.9 million is a lot of money to ask for, but in this case it’s worth it. The current building being used was built 43 years ago. "The building currently being used is very outdated," says Pamela Silberman, Utah System of Higher Education communications director. "There are life-safety risks in case of renovation. There is asbestos. There is not adequate classroom space. Students are crammed into labs, using chemicals and flames," adds Silberman

The Regents understand that students in a university deserve the best possible environment for learning. WSU has used the current science lab building for roughly two generations. The building, and what it offers, is outdated. It needs to be brought up to date. Renovation is not enough; a new building is needed.

Going back to the safety issue, the current science lab building is not earthquake-proof. According to Brad Mortensen, WSU vice president of university advancement, the building predates current seismic safety requirements. Also, the building lacks adequate fire safety features and because of the asbestos threat, a simple leaky pipe can’t be repaired until asbestos abatement crews are brought in.

On Tuesday, WSU representatives will pitch the need for the new building to the state Building Board. While a final decision won’t be made until the state Legislature meets in January, we urge the Building Board to lend its support for a new sciences lab building. The university’s goal is to construct a 200,000 square-foot building, just north of the Stewart Bell Plaza.

Higher education is very expensive. The students or parents willing to pay — and in some case go into debt — to gain higher education, expect a quality school. It’s been 43 years; WSU deserves state funding for a new science lab.

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