Trailer Trash

It's official - the trailers are here to stay, even after construction on the Kravis Center is finished. The “modules,” affectionately called Center Court, will remain exactly where they are next year. Most of their current inhabitants will relocate to the new Kravis Center in July.

The administration decided that it is financially sensible to save space for future construction projects, and bought these “temporary modules” outright, instead of simply renting the units until construction on the Kravis Center was completed. The space will be used to house faculty when the school undertakes its next construction project: an overhaul of Ducey Gymnasium.

The architecture at Claremont McKenna College has never been something to brag about:  giant tetris-piece towers, military-style barracks in North Quad, and the bomb shelters called Mid-Quad. They’re not unbearable, but they are definitely not the reason that applicants to CMC are steadily on the rise.

Cheap-looking, temporary trailers, on the other hand, are something entirely different.

So why did the college decide to buy the trailers? To be fair, their options are limited. In a few years, the school will be forced to relocate the athletic department faculty members to begin construction on the Ducey project, and without the trailers, there is nowhere to put them. Moving them to a location far off campus is not practical, and it does not make sense financially to remove the current units, then replace them with new temporary trailers in a few years when the Ducey project gets underway.

The current 30-year master plan takes these spacial concerns into account, and projects after the Ducey overhaul should not require temporary extra space.

While the administration's reasons are logical, the decision to keep the trailers is still hard to stomach. CMC is one of the country’s most respected liberal arts institutions, and having a large number of now semi-permanent trailers in the middle of campus is an affront to the campus’ image.

However, CMC is currently far from beginning construction on the new fitness center, and with no definite time line for that project, the “temporary” units start to feel more like a long-term solution.

The college is relatively young, yet it now has the resources and alumni network to upgrade its original buildings to fit the elite status of the institution. Let’s face it: there is a lot of construction that will be done at CMC in the next couple of decades, and keeping these trailers is not a viable long-term solution.

Members of the administration have indicated that faculty will not have offices in the modules after the Kravis Center is completed, and the buildings will mainly be used to house a few miscellaneous administrative and technical offices.

Claremont McKenna College will continue to expand and improve its campus over the next few decades, and it should.  Ducey and Bauer need to go, but the trailers cannot become the answer to every new construction project. Updating and changing the buildings are important, but it is difficult to reconcile this fact with the continued presence of the trailers.  Students and faculty alike look forward to removal of this academic shantytown.  Until then, admissions officers will just have to explain to prospective students--who will pay over $50,000 a year to attend CMC--that these trailers will stay for their four years at school.