In heated debate that rehashed many issues, University administrators and students last night discussed the proposed demolition of Smith Hall to make room for the planned Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Graduate and undergraduate students listened for over 90 minutes to a series of administrators, architects, and professors, in the forum which was co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Students Assembly. Provost Michael Aiken began the evening by telling the assembled that, "the decision to demolish Smith Hall was not easy to make." He, and many of the administrators who also spoke, went over many of their arguments in support of the razing and of the proposed science center. Some of these issues have included: proximity to other science and engineering facilities, cost reductions resulting from less duplication of personnel and equipment, and "programmatic efficiency," a buzzword for heightened interaction among faculty and students. Engineering Dean Gregory Farrington said the proposed center would bring solutions to problems of "broom closets and creativity," referring to the space constraints and faculty-student interaction concerns which face the school. The forum was interrupted briefly after Aiken entered the auditorium by members of the Progressive Students Alliance who were concerned about possible military research that could be done at the facility. Vice Provost for Research Barry Cooperman later said that University policy dictates that no classified or confidential research may be done, and that all research must be publishable. History and Sociology of Science Professor Robert Kohler made the sole presentation against the proposed demolition. Explaining that a more appropriate site for the proposed center was next to the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), at 33rd and Walnut streets, Kohler argued that not enough investigation was done by the planning committee and that community opinion was not adequately sought. "If the planning process had been broader and more democratic," he said earlier this week, "it's likely that a better decision would have been reached." UA leaders said they were pleased with the content and community response at the meeting. The body passed a resolution in December condemning the administration for its handling of the issue, and was contacted by the Provost who was willing to bring involved administrators together to explain how and why the decision was reached. "I was pleased to see that the UA passed a resolution condemning the administration for disregarding student opinion," said UA chairperson Duchess Harris. "The resolution encouraged the administration to respond."Comments powered by Disqus
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