Cougar cubes: the future is now

Forgive me if this sounds far-fetched or terribly out of place. It is no secret that, proud as we are, UH is primarily a commuter school and our values and priorities tend to follow suit.

Usually, the typical undergraduate faces a fair share of obstacles and personal problems upon entering any new university environment. That’s a given. You probably have an idea as to what these problems are – general loneliness or alienation, lack of focus, nowhere to hang your hat. These, however, are all issues that could be better tackled if the University would implement one thing: student offices.

Here this out. Let’s bypass the logistics of such an ambitious undertaking for a moment and focus just on the potential perks.

We can imagine that an office would probably keep students on campus for longer amounts of time. Not only is this a latent goal of the University in that it wants to sell students – in addition to a world-class education – snacks, manicures, fun in the games room and personal fitness but they want to provide the whole student experience.

If students are physically on campus there is a better chance that they will spend money here, take fuller advantage of all the facilities and academic services that UH has to offer and make better grades, which is what it’s all about, after all.

We’re not spending millions of dollars for construction because we like seeing all kinds of traffic cones, orange tape and dirt everywhere. Not only is all of this stuff being built for our benefit, but we’re actually paying for it. We should have the option to voice in a productive way what we think would be of most benefit and to have some say how our funds should be allocated.

The logical progression, then, would likely be an increase in school spirit, which we can probably all agree is less than stellar.

If students have a little nook of the University to call their own, they will likely feel more excited, or at least obligated, to cheer on their fellow classmates. We all know that school spirit leads to more wins and that more wins lead to more packed stadiums, more coverage in the media, more donations from alumni and other sources, more esteemed faculty and, mostly importantly, more money. The best part is, this doesn’t have to be a case of more money, more problems. UH can return the favor by remaining dedicated to providing an equal education for a better price.

With spirit comes camaraderie. Put a bunch of 20-somethings in any kind of shared space and you’ll begin to see sparks fly. Students love nothing more than to talk and make plans. Get students excited about coming to school, and you have done something extraordinary.

All of a sudden, going to class is less dreadful, attendance is up, grades are up, focus is up, participation is up, retention is up and UH’s reputation is up. After graduation, casual friendships can turn into valuable networking relationships and students are able to stand on solid ground. Graduates become alumni and happy alumni become a great resource for UH and the community at large. Never underestimate the human desire to "belong." There is a reason MySpace and Facebook are so wildly successful, you know.

Of course, all of this probably sounds a little ridiculous, so now let’s bring it down to the ground.

The idea of enduring even more construction is probably not very popular, especially when its for buildings and services that are peripheral to traditional education. But I imagine this idea of creating sects of offices for undergraduate students would probably entail less than one would think. Admittedly, this is kind of a wide-eyes idea, and there is zero concrete evidence to suggest that what I think is anywhere close to the actual truth. However, keep hearing this out.

This "plan" – for lack of a better word – requires offices. To make it even less complicated, it requires rooms. Very tiny rooms that are next to one another. It’s just space. I’m sure there is some underutilized space somewhere. Does anyone even frequent the higher floors of the library enough to justify their being there?

So we take a chunk of roofed space (perhaps some that already exists), put up some walls and rent it to students – by the semester or year – at an affordable rate. It’s like issuing parking permits or dorm rooms. A student could pay an extra fee with their tuition and, in exchange, receive a place to get their work done. An office would come furnished lightly: a key, a desk, a chair and a locker to keep their various material.

Amenities don’t need to exceed the basics, and the costs would be returned over and again each semester. Imagine a world in which you can safely turn your head away from your laptop and the backpack is a thing of the past… especially those ridiculous rolling ones. Peace of mind and a piece of the University. Not a bad deal, right?

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