Simpson Dormitory after renovations were completed in 2015 | Hillsdale College
Simpson Dor­mitory after ren­o­va­tions were com­pleted in 2015 | Hillsdale College

Christ Church, named after the Philadel­phian Church that the Founding Fathers’ wor­shipped at during the Con­ti­nental Con­gress, is planned to com­plete the quad, and serve as one of the two most prominent buildings on campus. There are alter­native uses for this money that will give greater benefit to the stu­dents, faculty, and the college’s rep­u­tation.

Christ Church was designed by Notre Dame architect pro­fessor Duncan Stroik. It bears a $28.5 million price tag and will be the most expensive college chapel in America. Christ Church’s 64-foot painted ceilings, seating capacity of 1,350, and 27,000 square feet leave little to be desired by the imag­i­nation; however, imag­i­nation can be used to brain­storm better uses for this money.

It is often hard to look past these grandiose fea­tures and see instead what is not being built with this money.

For only $28 million, Hillsdale could pur­chase the entire English village of West Hes­lerton, which includes  2,116 acres of land, a 21-bedroom hall, and 43 houses. Hillsdale could open a study abroad campus there to provide more edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nities rather than build a cathedral.

The Broad Key Islands off the coast of Florida cost only $20 million and would provide incredible oppor­tu­nities for biology classes, which are already offered in the Keys. Hillsdale could expand the campus and offer in-depth research at facil­ities on the water’s edge, giving under­graduate stu­dents an invaluable snapshot of the graduate school expe­rience.

Another option is buying the Magna Carta which was sold for $21.3 million in 2007.

Hillsdale College’s freshman classes have been larger than normal, with the Fall ‘15 and Fall ’16 classes num­bering 386 and 377, bringing a crowded dining hall and a record high of more than 450 stu­dents living off campus, some who were forced out of the dorms. Freshmen women filled Mcintyre and  Olds, but also Koon, an oddity for veteran stu­dents who spent their best mem­ories at the des­ig­nated freshman dorms. Mean­while, the dis­placed Mauck res­i­dents are living in Park Place and Boardwalk, two student res­i­dences the college plans to tear down after the res­i­dents leave.

While this problem may seem trivial to some, many stu­dents’ schol­ar­ships include housing, but they will lose this money if they are forced to live off campus. Hillsdale could build two res­i­dence halls for about $5‑to-$7 million each and con­tinue accepting larger class sizes. Other options include building another dining hall or even investing in the com­munity by expanding the dining hall swipes to local restau­rants and coffee shops. The mandatory meal plan for all stu­dents brings explicit ben­efits for those living in the dorms who eat solely at the dining hall, but upper­classmen and those living off campus should have the per­sonal liberty to feed them­selves at a lower cost and gain valuable cooking expe­rience.

The kick­start of the chapel was a donation of $12.5 million by Jack and Jo Babbitt, which they intended for the chapel, and those funds should build a chapel. The remaining money, however, could be used to benefit stu­dents by building new dorms, another dining hall, or ren­o­vating older class­rooms.