Campus / National / News / October 30, 2008

Faltering economy pierces Knox bubble

Due to the recent dip in our country’s economy, several “round two” college building plans, such as adding new boxes to the mailroom and reconstructing Wallace Lounge, have been put on hold.

Students often joke about the “Knox bubble” here on campus; the outside world passes us by without affecting us and we seldom notice. In the past two months, indicators have pointed toward an economic downward trend. High oil prices and global inflation have led to the bankruptcy of investment and commercial banks around the world. This, coupled with increasing unemployment makes the economic future of the United States a pretty scary place. Most students aren’t aware of how much this is going to affect them in the coming months and years. However, for students working in the mailroom, the Knox bubble is a little thinner than usual.

“With all the new students this year I noticed we were running a little low on mailboxes,” said Neill Unger, Mailroom Supervisor. “I cleaned house a little bit. I discovered that several clubs on campus were no longer using their boxes, and I consolidated what I could.”

As it stands, the mailroom uses a computer program that places students’ names in groups alphabetically, leaving open slots for each letter in case of transfer students or returning students. This means that with the sudden influx of students this year, the buffer of open boxes is a little strained. A plan is in the works to help alleviate the strain, though.

“The plan would be for about 200 additional mailboxes to be placed on the wall shared with the copy room,” said Unger.

The additional boxes were part of a list of “round two” projects under the general budget.

“We’d hoped to get several projects completed during winter break to be available for students upon their return in January,” said Scott Maust, Director of Facilities Services. “The mailroom project was projected to cost about $15,000, and while that’s a small part of the whole budget, we don’t want to commit before we know where it’s all going.”

The capital projects would come out of a budget of approximately one million dollars. However, with the economy in its current state, Vice President for Finance and Administration Services Thomas Axtell believes it is important to play it safe.

“We feel it would be imprudent to move ahead with these projects. We have a placeholder of about $350,000 left over from the expenses of fixing the Old Main roof last year, but we still want to take things slow and see how the slowing economy is going to affect the endowment and families here at Knox. We’re choosing to be cautious about capital projects we have not begun yet.”

Every quarter the college examines the budget; the next session is in December. At that point the college will review whether or not to move forward with the “round two” projects. Axtell’s personal favorite, revamping Wallace Lounge, has been in the works for over a year.

“We’re hopeful now that our projects like the mailroom and Wallace Lounge will be able to happen over summer break,” said Axtell. “We’ve had renderings floating around for some time among the students we’ve brought in on the project, myself and Scott Maust. We just need to make sure the budget is balanced, and once we’re sure the economy can support our plans, we’ll go through with them.”

David Nolan

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