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.