‘A sense of brokenness and abuse’: Crumbling LSU buildings & Jindal’s misplaced priorities

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By Robert Mann

Perhaps nothing symbolizes the deplorable state of Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana more than the decay that’s occurred on the state’s college campuses.

The recent spate of stories about the funding crisis at Grambling State University featured photographs of buildings around campus that have fallen into disrepair. I’ve been on the Grambling dozens of times, but haven’t visited there in at least ten years. I was shocked by what I saw in the New York Times, for example. The campus appears to resemble something one might find in Haiti or some other third-world country.

But this decay isn’t limited to one of the state’s historically black universities in a small north Louisiana town. It’s happening right on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.

In late October, I wrote about the deplorable state of LSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology’s Cartographic Information Center. “There, you will see blue tarps draping much of the center’s collection of rare maps, protecting them from the water that sometimes pours into the building because of the building’s leaky roof.”

Now, comes the latest evidence of LSU’s decline.

In a front-page story, Wednesday’s LSU Daily Reveille reports:

For nearly a decade and a half, the College of Art and Design has been waiting to receive construction funding, but on Saturday in the ceramics studio, the college’s students’ and faculty’s greatest nightmare was realized when a concrete panel fell from the ceiling, shutting down the studio indefinitely.

While no one was injured, students agreed had it not been the Thanksgiving holiday, someone could have been hurt. They said there is no time when that building isn’t occupied, and the spot where the concrete panel fell is the area with the most traffic.

“The ceiling tile actually hit the sink on the way down, so if someone would have been standing there, they would’ve gotten hit,” said Molly Gleason, ceramics and sculpture junior. “That sink gets used probably the most every single day because it’s the only one big enough for our buckets.” . . .

Associate art professor Mickey Walsh said this incident is deteriorating the overall morale of students and faculty.

“I think we all feel really defeated by what’s going on,” Walsh said. “We find ourselves in a chronically difficult position because we value what we do, we have great students, we have a lot of momentum, we have a good program and we just don’t get supported.”

Walsh said she and others are starting to feel a sense of brokenness and abuse and as if there is nothing anyone can do to fix the problem.


Read out of context, this might be a story about scarce state resources. Tough times call for tough choices, right?

And yet.

Back in October, Jindal and the legislature easily found $2 million to fund a library in remote Franklin, Louisiana, to house the papers of Jindal’s mentor and political patron, former Gov. Mike Foster.

Apparently, creating a library for Foster in a remote area of the state is a higher priority than keeping the ceilings at LSU from falling in.

Jindal and the legislature can talk all they want about how much they value educating our children. But if you really want to know what they think about it, look at where they’re spending our money.

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6 Responses to ‘A sense of brokenness and abuse’: Crumbling LSU buildings & Jindal’s misplaced priorities

  1. Milford Fryer says:

    Bob, while it is true that little Bobby got his public persona kick started by Mike Foster, Bobby can’t hold a candle to the job Gov. Foster did as governor. Foster was decisive, he could prioritize, and he moved the state forward in many ways. Foster, as all governors, had his faults, but he would ever allow major buildings at LSU to literally collapse, for example. Hanging Bobby around his neck almost seems mean. Almost.

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  2. Robert Mann says:

    Milford,

    You are correct. Foster was a much better governor than Jindal and he cared about higher education. That said, he should have rejected this boondoggle. It does him no credit to have this shrine.

    Bob

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  3. G.B. Hutslar says:

    Although I totally agree with what a worthless piece of work Piyush is and what a incredible waste of money the Foster library project is, on behalf of my friends in little Franklin, please don’t call it remote. Because it’s not.

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    • Robert Mann says:

      By remote, I mean that anyone who wants to research the papers of former governors can do so in Baton Rouge at LSU or the State Archives. Putting such a collection in Franklin just means that few researchers will use it because it will be too far to travel for many or most of them. It’s also a waste of money, when many university libraries already have special collection divisions that could easily handle the papers, as could the State Archives. If Foster wants a shrine in Franklin, he should pay for it himself.

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      • Marsha Miller says:

        My thoughts and my words exactly–it’s not like Foster can’t afford a library if that’s what his ego requires. I guess it would add to the tourist attraction of his home and bring more visitors to it.

        If Mike Foster did not want this personal monument to himself, paid for by the people of La, then it would not be built.

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  4. Michelle Springett says:

    I’m a sculpture student at LSU. I have a studio in the Studio Arts building at LSU. The ceiling tile falling isn’t even the worst problem of that building! There is black mold everywhere, asbestos, lead paint in most studios, rats all over the building, broken windows, and dozens of other hazards. I feel undervalued and unsafe in that building, but that’s where the majority of my classes are held. So if they were to gut and re-model the whole building the sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, and painting classes would all have no where to go. I’m glad that this finally being brought to the publics attention. I hope if Jindal can find funding for some library in Franklin he can find funding for the Studio Arts building, and the hundreds of art students who have classes there and pay tuition to attend LSU.

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