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Revamp of UM athletic facilities is great, but what about the dorms?

As a parent of a sophomore at the University of Maryland, I was thrilled to learn of Kevin Plank's most generous gift toward refurbishing Cole Field House. ("Under Armour CEO vows gift to UM," Nov. 21) Certainly athletics contribute to the quality of campus life and a robust sense of school pride, and his gift will enable the school to enhance this athletic complex for the benefit of the student body.

I would, however, like to see the school also focus on the quality of residential life on campus, which from my son's experience, is in dire need of improvement. My son's freshman dorm, Hagerstown Hall, had no air conditioning, which is an issue for several months during the year. This year the student lounge on his floor in La Plata Hall, a space so critical to helping to create a sense of community in an otherwise enormous school, was converted into a room for four students due to a shortage of dorm rooms.

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And we recently received word that administration will be giving freshman and sophomores priority for housing for next year, forcing the upperclassmen to either take rooms in the older dorms or move off-campus to apartments away from the center of campus life and activities. In the past, the upperclassman got priority housing in the very few newer dorms on campus. Living off-campus detracts from the sense of community and also denies students easy access to classes, dining halls, labs and libraries, among other amenities.

If the University of Maryland wants to continue to attract quality students, both academically and athletically, from Maryland and especially from out of state, it must make a concerted effort to improve the quality of the housing they are offering their students in tandem with improving the quality of their other facilities.

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Elinor Spokes, Baltimore

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