By Robert Mann
Let’s face it, behind its lovely facade, much of the LSU campus is a dump. Drive around campus. Looking at it through your windshield, you’ll be inspired by LSU’s stunning live oaks and its grand old buildings. Park your car, walk inside many of those “grand” buildings, however, and you’ll be appalled.
In my recent column on NOLA.com and a separate pictorial blog post, I documented the deplorable state of the LSU Middleton Library. It’s a disgusting facility, just a three-minute walk from the palace known as the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes (the former gym-armory, restored in 2002 with more than $15 million in private funding).
In the coming weeks, I will document the sad state of other buildings around the LSU campus. (I’m open to suggestions from students, faculty and staff about which buildings to investigate next. Also, if you work on another Louisiana college campus, please send me photos of your deplorable workspace, as I know LSU isn’t the only Louisiana public university with a campus in sad shape.)
It should also be noted that many academic buildings at LSU are in fine shape. French House, the home of the Odgen Honors College, is getting a much-needed renovation. There will soon be a massive restored building for the Engineering School. The Student Union was recently upgraded and expanded. My own school’s Journalism Building was restored more than a dozen years ago (although, don’t mind the frequent water leaks that are responsible for ceiling tiles that regularly collapse onto students’ desks and employee work spaces. And please overlook the disturbing black soot that spews from the air conditioning vents year round.)
But just as many buildings, or more, are in such a state of disrepair that it should shame every citizen of Louisiana. On one side of “the tracks,” the athletic facilities are state of the art. No expense (it’s mostly private money) is spared for the comfort and education of athletes.
But, believe me, expenses are spared when it comes to the education of “regular” students.
Today, we direct our gaze to the Dalrymple Building, another building that rests in the proverbial and literal shadow of Tiger Stadium on Campus Drive, just a block off Field House Drive.
On the second floor, is an ecology lab run by Associate Professor Linda Hooper-Bùi, of the Department of Environmental Science with the school’s College of the Coast & Environment. Among other things, Hooper-Bùi studies ants. She’s a remarkable scholar and teacher. She won the 2012 Southeastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America’s 2012 award for Distinguished Achievement in Teaching. Her enthusiasm for her work and her students is immediately infectious.
That is why it was so disheartening to receive a tour of her second-floor lab in Dalrymple and the adjacent annex building, where she and her students must conduct their work. The tap water in the lab is filthy and unsafe to drink, Hooper-Bùi says. There is no hot running water. I saw that for myself, trying without success to turn on hot-water taps. Students must trek to the Student Union periodically to fill water bottles to be used in the lab and for drinking and making coffee.
Below are a few more photos of spaces within the second-floor lab. Notice the condition of the walls and windows. Imagine if this were the condition of a window in the Provost’s Office or in that of a football coach.
If that were the case, how long do you imagine it would take for repairs to be ordered and completed?
And, now, for some photos of the annex building behind Dalrymple. This is used as a “rearing room” for ants and other insects she and her students study.