College budgets for burgers, not books

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Maybe it is true that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the fastest way to a four-year university is through the library.

Southwestern College has a head-scratching priority problem when it comes to academics. Students have already suffered from class cuts, eviscerated supply budgets and classes shipped off to the white elephant Otay Mesa satellite. Now they face the cafeteria/library conundrum. It is easier to score some high-priced burgers and fries than access to reference books and computers in the library.

Semester by semester, cash-strapped SWC is closing down earlier. Ironically, though, SWC’s food venues are open more hours than the library, Academic Success Center and gym. Instead of improving student GPAs and health levels, SWC is pushing fried foods and sugary snacks at inflated prices. (A slice of pizza costs $4 at the Time Out Café when across the street a whole pizza at Little Caesar’s is just $5.)

Students cannot get classes, tutoring or library time, but there are always pork rinds to fall back on. Priorities should be flipped. It would be more logical to close the cafeteria earlier and keep academic facilities open as beacons of knowledge and citadels of assistance.

Friday afternoons the campus is as empty as the O-K Corral before a gunfight. Our library closes at 1 p.m., yet the cafeteria stays open for an hour longer, desolate because most of the students have already gone home. Chips yes, Chekhov, no. Soda, sure, Shakespeare, so sorry. SWC officials probably do not mean to put more value into food services than into the success of their students, but appearance is important, too, and SWC’s shuttering of its $17 million library looks bad.

A government-funded, accredited institution has to keep its library, Academic Success Center and health center open longer than its hash house. Students can get cheap food across the street, but only our library dishes up food for thought.

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