Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Our Opinion: The Phoenix thinks the Gorham campus should go, we need it to stay

Posted on September 29, 2015 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Last week, The Portland Phoenix ran a column titled “Can USM Be Fixed?” in which they stated that our University should consider combining all campus’ to the Portland location, where we could work hand-in-hand in community partnerships such as the Portland Museum of Art and the Civics Center to host a classroom unique from other Universities. The column suggested that other than providing interesting architecture, USM’s Gorham campus should ultimately be shut down and the money should be invested in expanding the Portland campus.

We agree only in bits and pieces. The columns states that, “The problems at the University of Southern Maine are so deep and complex that defining them often gets in the way of finding a solution.” Ultimately, this University has dug itself a hole of confusion and debt over the past four years; this statement really is nothing new. It is also obvious why Gorham is looked down upon – but we don’t believe it should be taken away from students.

Its rundown buildings are nestled in a sleepy hollow town and housing what most University higher-ups would gladly do without: art programs. The combination of leaky roofs, crumbling brick and a budding arts department sounds like any College Dean’s worst nightmare.

However, getting rid of this necessary hub would decrease enrollment more than we’ve already seen in the past. Many students come to USM specifically for the appeal of the Gorham campus. It is an easier stepping stone from home to college than the bustling city of Portland, not to mention ideal for students without cars. Without Gorham, USM would essentially have no green, no central meeting points and no community. If we were to have classes scattered across Portland, It wouldn’t have the typical college appeal. it would be a University ideal for a well adjudged 25 year old, but not an 18 year old college first timer.

The idea of collaborating with the Portland Museum of Art, The Civics Center, and theaters in Portland is a great idea. Students should absolutely be more of a part of Portland’s stellar arts community. However, less students would be inclined to enroll if they knew they had to trek across the streets of Portland just to go to class, much less so with a heavy instrument case or art portfolio. We know several students who came to USM simply because of Gorham’s theater and music departments. You can often hear piano music billowing out of Corthell until midnight as students practice. The ancient art studio is covered in paint, piles of canvas’ and past student’s graffiti. The convenient closeness of these buildings allow students to breeze easily and safely in a community that is accessible, and most of all theirs.

Arts isn’t the only thing that Gorham Campus has to offer. With indoor sports like a track arena and a ice hockey rink and a basketball court, students don’t have to walk too far from their dorms to access the sport facilities. With many outdoor sport options also available, we don’t see a logical explanation as to how we would accommodate these sporting events in the city of Portland. So many students apply to college to participate in a sporting community, and without a quality option for this, we’d lose these students to Orono or Farmington. Also, without sports, USM would loose a huge aspect of quintessential college that Gorham has. No longer will the sounds of cheering fans, bundled up for a soccer game drift to the dorms, or the yellow and blue facepaint and banner remind students of a big game.

Maine College of Art (MECA) located in downtown Portland, can give students the “artsy” feel that the Phoenix claims we need as a University – but good luck affording it. Living on campus and attending their costs an estimated $46,412 a year. Plus, their community is so small they never get the chance to branch out to anywhere else in Maine. With USM, at least we can explore three different campus locations to be well-rounded students.

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