Last Friday, the Daily reported that the board of trustees had approved a new gym to be built on west campus, on the west end of Roble Field. My last column lamented some of our music facilities, so I was interested in the fact that the administration, after recently building Arrillaga gym, decided to build another. We Stanfordians care about fitness and wellness, but apparently we like to have our athletic facilities close by. “It takes effort to go across campus to the gym? Nonsense! We’ll build another gym, closer to you!”
Familiar names pop up in the funding of the project: Arrillaga and Avery. Clearly we have some wealthy donors who care about sports. Luckily, there are others who care about music and culture, like the Bings who financed a concert hall and the overseas programs.
So is it just an example of donor preferences? I think the administration could probably make more of an effort to fundraise for the arts departments. Several conversations I’ve had in the music department include a teacher lamenting the fact that they can’t get the funding to teach another class. And the only new music facility that’s popped up around campus was the Band Shak for the LSJUMB, who exists under the auspices of the athletic department.
Though part of the reason they built a new gym was that much of Roble Gym was converted to dance and performance space. So as I said in the column as well, the situation for the arts isn’t dire; people are paying some attention.
But when the main reason cited for a new sports facility is proximity, it shows a bias towards athletics. Oh, if that could be the reason to build more practice rooms: “Musicians in Mirrielees have to go all the way to the music building to play.” Somehow, I don’t think that argument would persuade the board of trustees.