As UVA students, we're all a little spoiled when it comes to some things. Brunch spots on the Corner, bars on the Corner, and Corner Groceries on the Corner are just a few of them. But for every resource that is readily available to UVA students, there are resources and needs that the school just is not properly addressing.
1. Practice rooms in Old Cabell
At this point in my UVA career, I've lost count of how many times I have had to wait over 30 minutes to get one of 11 available "sound proof" practice rooms in the entire school (and yes, there's that one practice room that ONLY someone playing a harp can use). With all of the issues surrounding the music department now about whether performing ensembles should count for credit and whether the department should add a music minor, this issue is probably not high on the priority list. However, any school that wants to tout its music program should make sure that its students can practice on-grounds without having to wait half an hour to get a room.
2. Musical theater classes (that actually count towards the Drama major/minor)
By my count, there is exactly one class devoted to musical theater at UVA: Musical Theater Performance. I'm in it right now, and I've been trying to take it since first year but could never fit it in my schedule. As a 4th year, I'm thrilled that I finally was able to take the class, but I do think it's a shame that there is so little attention paid to musical theater in the Drama Department. I also know that Drama majors and minors who want to take the class are often frustrated that the class counts for absolutely nothing towards their degree. This does not reflect well on UVA saying that it "prioritizes the arts," and I hope that in the coming years the department realizes that the demand among students is there for a more legitimate musical theater program in the Drama Department.
3. Late-night transportation options for students studying on-grounds
Yes, there's Saferide, but it sometimes takes FOREVER to come. I've had to wait nearly an hour for the Saferide on multiple occasions in my undergrad career, and since that last fateful time of waiting I've just given up on ever calling it. I've also resorted to anxiously walking home a couple of times when I saw no other options. I do wish that the UTS buses just ran later into the evening, which would solve a lot of this problem. However, if that is not feasible for the UTS system, then there really should be another Saferide running once the bus stops for the night.
4. Easily accessible free printing that isn't of the 3D variety
As most UVA students, regular printing on Grounds is eight cents per page, and something like 60 cents per page in color. However, I recently learned a fact that I found shocking: there are 3D printers on grounds that UVA students can use FOR FREE. Though of course the amount of people doing regular printing is much higher than people 3D printing, I don't think it's outrageous to suggest that most students would rather pay a few bucks to 3D print something in exchange for their regular printing to be free. I do know that there are a couple of places on grounds where you can print for free, but those are usually in hush-hush locations that not everyone has access to, so I think my point still remains.
5. Female professors teaching STEM classes
Since I'm not a STEM major, I am not as exposed to this issue as many UVA students are, but I have heard from many of my female friends in STEM majors that they have taken only one or two STEM-related classes with female professors since they arrived at UVA, and that they think it is much more inspiring to take a STEM class with a female professor. UVA always talks about how important science and technology education is (peep the new $120 million data science school), but to really make this point worthwhile to its students, it needs to employ more faculty that female students can directly look up to.
6. Recycling pickup at off-grounds housing locations
Though this may not be directly controlled by UVA, it's still an important issue. When I first moved into my apartment before starting third year, I was surprised to learn that there was no dumpster designated for recycling in my apartment complex, and no recycling pickup at all. Luckily, my roommate and I discovered the McIntire Road Recycling Center, which takes every form of recycling you could think of, and have started going there a few times a semester to deposit all of our recycling. Still, for students who need more of a push to conveniently recycle, these apartment complexes should make it easier for them to dispose of their recycling in an environmentally friendly manner.
7. Free parking on-grounds for students
UVA recently made waves among its students for all the wrong reasons when it announced that it was implementing 24-hour parking meters in Newcomb Garage, effectively getting rid of the "leave the Garage after midnight and avoid paying" trick that many students use. I don't have a car at school so this didn't directly affect me, but I find it appalling that UVA was so desperate to make a few more bucks off of its students that it wanted to charge them for studying late at night in on-grounds libraries. Luckily, I believe that this "24/7 meter" thing was revoked, but that doesn't change the fact that parking in and around UVA is often a chaotic nightmare, especially on game days.
8. Fruit in the dining halls
Aside from apples, bananas, and sometimes pineapples, good luck getting any vitamin C in your diet if you have a meal plan at UVA. This lack of fruit in dining halls, especially Newcomb, makes those times when they put out any form of blueberries or strawberries seem like a real treat. I understand that fruit goes bad quickly and is expensive, but even previously frozen strawberries at the dessert counter would be better and healthier than the "cereal bars" or whatever they sometimes have there now. Also, don't you think that UVA would love to boast about serving its students all five food groups in its dining halls? The way the food situation is right now, this claim is kind of a stretch.
9. Scooter-related regulations
Earlier this semester, I was walking down 14th St with my head down, and when I looked up, several men on Lime scooters whizzed by me. Ever since then, I feel like my life has been a non-stop parade of narrowly avoiding a scooter accident as I walk around grounds and getting frustrated at scooters that are parked in the middle of the sidewalk or, even worse, in actual parking spots that cars could use instead. It seems like people who are using these scooters have no etiquette whatsoever with where to deposit them, and I really don't think that in the middle of the sidewalk is the answer.
10. Performance spaces for student groups that are NOT the SAB
After attending a Town Hall event at 1515 last Spring about the potential SAB renovation, I was all excited that this project might finally be getting off the ground and UVA would work towards building a new performing arts space for student groups such as First-Year Players, Spectrum Theater, and Shakespeare On The Lawn. However, I have heard approximately zero words about this project in the last year. It does not appear to be a major priority for UVA at the moment, but this is an issue that affects hundreds of students who put on high-quality performances in a concrete warehouse every semester. As one example, FYP has performed in the SAB for about 30 years and nothing about the building seems to have changed in that time. Enough is enough. We all deserve a real stage.
In true UVA fashion, I asked around and crowdsourced several of the ideas in this list, so for anyone reading this who gave me an idea, you know who you are and thank you for helping out. Of course, I have not even scratched the surface of many deeper issues surrounding the UVA environment, but these are a few of the more visible issues that I feel should be addressed sooner rather than later. Hopefully, by the time I have been working for a few years and would happily donate to a cause helping one of these issues, UVA will recognize that there are bigger fish to fry than adding more sod to the Lawn.