Where is all the hype for the new library?

Steve Herr
associate professor
of education

I’ve been waiting for the New Library Task Force, or one of its members, to comment on the administration’s proposal to use student fees to raise funds to build the new library. What startles me is the silence. For the last several years the New Library Task Force and its members have been the public face of the adminstration’s plans to build a new library. Comments from the task force members have appeared regularly in the press, Roundabout Murray, alumni publications and on the Internet and each comment has supported the administration’s plans. But recently the administration’s plans have changed, so why has there been no comment regarding this change by members of the Task Force?

One of the fundamental attributes of the plan for a new library, as articulated by the Task Force, was that tuition would not be raised to cover the cost of the project. On the Task Force’s website “A New Library for Murray State University,” under the FAQ section, the question is raised “why are we pursuing a new library building (or any building) when students are facing a tuition increase to compensate for state allocation shortfalls?”

The response to the question includes this statement: “Funding from the State of Kentucky for the capital construction projects comes from a different source of funds than state appropriations. In other words, tuition is not being raised to pay for a new building” (http://lib.murraystate.edu/newlibrary/).

However, last fall Dr. Dunn specifically asked for student support for the library project, noting that “students are going to end up paying the same dollar amount whether it’s for a bond or a tuition increase.” Clearly the administration’s position had changed, so why hasn’t the Task Force’s?

What is disheartening about the silence of the members of the New Library Task Force is that they have left the students to deal with this issue alone and that seems unconscionable. When the administration was trying to build momentum for the new library project, the public relations resources of the University were fully marshaled to support that effort.

When the administration reversed its decision, and abandoned its commitment not to raise tuition, it was as if the commitments of the previous years meant nothing and those who had made them were phantoms. But the truth of the matter is that people make decisions (such as which university to attend, which elected official to write to and what to say when they write, which university to recommend, which university to contribute to, etc.) based on the commitments other people make, and when those commitments aren’t honored it leaves a nasty taste.

In the end, for the long term good of Murray State, it is probably best to remember that one group of people being willing to pretend they didn’t say something, doesn’t mean another group of people will be willing to pretend they didn’t hear it.