Monday, December 5, 2011

MCC: Close the Downtown Campus

Bob Lonsberry has a spot-on column today, illustrating the unsuitability of the old Sibley Building as a choice for a new downtown campus for Monroe Community College.

[N]oteworthy for being one of those unique places where you can see a cop and smell marijuana at the same time. ... Put another way, it’s a great place to get stabbed and pee in the street.
Scarcely conducive to learning or safety, but it's where Mayor Richards and County Legislature Democrats, who can block the choice of any alternative, insist a new campus be located.

Of course their insistence has nothing at all to do with the fact that the Sibley Building, one of the most commercially unmarketable sites downtown, is owned by major Democratic contributor Tom Wilmot.   Wilmot's company owes more than $20 million in unpaid taxes on the building.

Time for the community college to pull the plug on this farce.   Phase out the downtown campus and provide additional transportation to bring students from the City to the main campus in Brighton.

Students in far reaches of Monroe County travel 15 miles or more to get to MCC each day.   City residents can make the 4-mile trek to Brighton, especially if MCC lays on more buses.

Be sure to read Lonsberry's insightful and amusing column on the subject.


Rottenchester said...

I assume that the reason there's a downtown MCC campus is accessibility to a population who can't get to Brighton to take classes. If you accept that accessibility is important, then the Sibley's location is prime, since it's pretty much the one place you can reach using RTS without getting a transfer. Even if you start running a shuttle from the Liberty Pole to Henrietta, you've added 20 minutes each way to the time/effort cost of taking a MCC class. So I don't see how your proposal solves the problem the Sibley campus was designed to address.

Wonder why you didn't endorse the State St. alternative. If they used the Kodak building, it would be pretty cheap (1 bus) to have an almost constant loop shuttle from State St. to the Liberty Pole, and as Lonsberry notes, it would bring some business to High Falls.

Philbrick said...

But the point is: isn't accessability an issue for a student from Hilton, too? Because more people (and therefore more potential students) live in the city than in outlying towns like Hilton, it made sense to have a campus location in the city.

But can't those city students ride the bus 4 miles to Brighton? And isn't it cheaper for MCC to furnish buses than to build a new campus, or to retrofit an old one?

Monkeytoe said...

"Even if you start running a shuttle from the Liberty Pole to Henrietta, you've added 20 minutes each way to the time/effort cost of taking a MCC class."

I'm pretty confident that of the non-City resident students, 98.5% or higher of MCC student commute 20 minutes or more each way for their classes.

In what world should the City resident students not have the same inconvenience as anyone else in the world? Are they really so special that they can't be expected to ride the bus 20 minutes to attempt to better their lives? Is that really your argument? that this population of people can't be expected to rid the bus 20 minutes like anyone else? I rode the bus 40 minutes each way to high school. Yet City residents can't be expected to ride 20 minutes?

Look, if we want a downtown MCC, make the case for one. I think, however, from a cost/benefit analysis, the Henrietta campus is much better than any downtown campus in an old bld such as the Sibley bld could be. I'm also pretty sure that you would not have to change anything for these students to get form Downtown to MCC's campus right now - buses already go there regularly. I'm not sure why Downtown Residents shouldn't be expected to "transfer". Is the argument that they are not capable of transferring? If so, they shouldn't really be attending college classes anyway.

the real argument is that if we don't use taxpayer money to make it as convenient as possible, many of these City Residents wouldn't attend. :I'm not really sure that is a valid argument. If that is the case, they can't be taking their studies at the downtown campus too seriously in the first place.

Rottenchester said...

I'm open to the idea that it's a better way to spend education money to have some kind of RTS MCC feeder line. I'm just trying to figure out why that campus is downtown in the first place. I was assuming that it was located after some careful study of the urban poor population they were trying to reach, and the conclusion was the best way to reach them was a campus that was near the main form of transport for the urban poor: RTS. And if you're using RTS as your transport system, Sibley's has a lot to recommend itself, even with all the negatives you and Lonsberry point out.

So, to answer your question, my guess is that underlying assumption is that the Hilton person has money for a car for the ride to Brighton, and the people for whom the urban campus was created can't afford transport to Brighton, so they use RTS.

I don't know if that's fair or warranted. Do you have any thoughts on why MCC is downtown in the first place?

Monkeytoe said...

To the question about why the MCC campus is downtown in the first place, i would guess that despite the availability of transit to MCC (it already exists), there weren't the # of people from the City going.

thus, to attract more City residents, they located a downtown campus. I would be more interested in how successful the downtown campus is in terms of actually having students go through and graduate with a degree.

the reality is that people from the City who want to get to MCC can without much trouble. Transit already goes there.