Editorial: Master Plan’s goals too idealistic

NIU’s ambitions are more than its means when it comes to the Master Plan Thesis.

The Master Plan Thesis is a series of objectives — remove Stevenson and Douglas, close Normal Road to car traffic, have food trucks visit every Friday in the fall, etc. — to redefine the campus and surrounding community.

But many of the Master Plan Thesis’ goals seem short-sighted and superficial, and NIU has too many problems — pension woes, potential state funding cuts to the tune of $11.6 million and falling enrollment — to be planting 2,018 trees and widening the sidewalks of College Avenue.

The university’s next move needs to be reviewing the feedback it got during the display of the Master Plan Thesis ideas in the Holmes Student Center, which ended March 28.

NIU administrators: Use that feedback. Answer those questions. Scale back the budget for the plan — the state doesn’t have the funding for it.

Then put out information, be it on NIU Today or through another Holmes Student Center display, that proposes new ideas that focus on what students need and not what will look fancy.

Rather than spending money on trees, NIU should spend that money — or, if necessary, use it to save up — on services students need: more parking lots for NIU’s ample commuter population, more scholarships for upperclassmen and transfer students, temporary housing options for commuters and cheaper residence hall rates (all the more necessary with the loss of Douglas Hall, one of NIU’s cheapest living options).

Some parts of the Master Plan Thesis shows sparks of brilliance: Ending the infamous Huskie Shuffle by transforming the Holmes Student Center into The Hub shows NIU is on the right track when it comes to improving customer service.

And NIU’s plan to implement The Hub@Holmes, where student services will spend 30 days in Holmes’ Duke Ellington Ballroom at the beginning of the fall semester, is an extremely helpful temporary solution to ease students’ frustration.

NIU should build off that foundation with the rest of the Master Plan and, taking into consideration its funding problems, redefine its goals accordingly.

That’s what the students need.