Ethical Analysis Essay The Gladding Project

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Nathan Belote

Univ 112

Ethical Analysis Essay

The Gladding Project
The argument with building a 100 million dollar, twelve story residence hall on Virginia Commonwealth University’s academic campus, known as “The Gladding Project” is abundant between the legislative leaders of Virginia, the VCU student body, the VCU administration, and the citizens of Richmond.  This residence hall will be completed by the fall semester of 2018 and it will house 1,524 incoming freshman. It is going to be built on West Main Street across from Monroe Park, which will also result in the demolition of Gladding residence center one and two in August. The importance of this building is to shy away from the high-rise dorms of the VCU medical campus.  It is also supposed to emphasize VCU’s residential experience and house the entire freshman on the Monroe Park campus. As a result of this construction project, the VCU finance committee has plans to raise the costs of tuition for the entire student body. This is a big ethical concern for the student body. This also causes lots of tension between the student body, the VCU administration, and the General Assembly of Virginia. Kapsidelis says in her article - “The General Assembly’s proposed two-year budget, which gives more funding to higher education, also includes language that would require a state-level review of tuition increases.” One might ask, is the University spending the money they get from VCU students spent wisely? Why does all the money seem to go to fancy, new buildings? Nevertheless, this project will make it easier for a large percentage of the underclassmen to access the Monroe Park Campus, instead of having to come from the medical campus a few miles away. The ethical implications of The Gladding Project will be looked at through the views of Singer’s “The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle”, Asma’s “The Myth of Universal Love”, and Sandel’s “Who Deserves What?”.

When Virginia Commonwealth University spends the money on non-favorable construction projects, the students and the general assembly both weigh in. The student body obviously doesn’t favor it, considering they keep raising the prices of tuition, which makes it hard for students to continue their education when the rates grow exponentially.  The ethical issue: Where does all the money really go? Peter Singer says in his drowning child article - “Can we be sure that our donation will really get to the people who need it? Doesn’t most aid get swallowed up in administrative costs, or waste, or downright corruption?” Singer thinks that we, or in this case VCU, should not spend money on luxuries. This 100 million dollar project is exactly what that is, a luxury for the incoming freshman. Who actually knows where the millions of dollars of tuition money are going? Similarly, Michael Sandel says in his article - “If moral virtue is something we learn by doing, we have to develop the right habits in the first place.”(FI Reader 298). VCU has a bad habit of spending money on things that they do not need: New seating on all floors of the library and brand new dorms. By doing this, they are developing bad habits on spending and the general assembly of Virginia is working on fixing that by preparing a budget that compensates for the rise in tuition costs for public universities. In Kapsidelis’s article, she interviews a VCU student who was opposing the rise in tuition increases and said, “The amount of students that have to work full time and go to school full time is ridiculous.” Comparatively, according to Social Explorer - 77 percent of people who live on or around the VCU campus are working in the private sector (probably local businesses). Similarly enough, 96 percent of the people in that area have some high school education or more. Obviously most of that 96 percent is in attendance at VCU. Which gets to the student’s point in Kapsidelis’s article, the amount of people who work and go to school is very high and that their money is being spent on things that doesn’t matter to the students who attend there.  

Stephen Asma states in his article “The Myth of Universal Love” - “If care is indeed a limited resource, then it cannot stretch indefinitely to cover the massive domain of strangers...”(5). Asma is saying that the freshman are more important to the university almost like the smaller tribes are important to him and his beliefs. They spend more money on campus and in the university itself for room and board, so the university should feel so inclined to take care of them.  On the other hand, Singer says - “Our capacity to affect what is happening, anywhere in the world, is one way in which we are living in an era of global responsibility.”(FI Reader, 321). Why should we only care about the freshman? Why not the entire student body? After all, the ones that don’t live in on campus housing are the ones working and putting money in the economy of Richmond. We should make it easier on them by keeping the tuition rates low, and keeping them in school. They help the economy in Richmond and make the city a better place. Similarly, Sandel says - “Justice means giving people what they deserve, giving each person his or her due. But what is a person due?”(FI Reader, 291). He also says - “Justice discriminates according to merit, according to the relevant excellence.”(FI Reader 292).  Sandel is asking, do they really deserve this? And why do we favor the freshman over the upperclassmen? He believes that “Persons are assigned to equal things.”(FI Reader, 292). Sandel thinks it depends on who is distributing the goods: the VCU administration and the General Assembly of Virginia.  On the contrary, Asma says - “Generosity can better flourish under the umbrella of favoritism.”(7).  The University is going to take care of the newer students, considering the upperclassmen are leaving soon, so we should favor them over the majority of the student body.  

The Gladding Project is definitely an issue that can affect the economy of Richmond by taking the younger private sector workforce (VCU students) out of the city of Richmond by raising the tuition rates. Many students will not attend school seeing as they will not be able to afford such prices after the exponential increases.  The philosophers mentioned previously disagree on some big issues, but also agree on some when it comes to the majority of the student body at VCU.  They question if the money is actually going to the importance of the university and the city for that matter, rather than just the incoming freshman class. Moreover, Asma in a sense favors the work of the Gladding Project, and thinks that universal care, or care for the remainder of the student body, is too hard to come by and is non-realistic.  Contrary to Asma’s beliefs, Michael Sandel thinks that we should only get what we deserve.  Justice is important in this world and equality is based on the person distributing. Singer thinks that most donations to “charities” get put towards administrative costs, wastes, or corruption.  So if the General Assembly proposes a budget that gives public universities more funding for “student financial aid”, will the University actually spend it wisely? Or will the Expansion of Virginia Commonwealth University be the “debt sentence” that many students alike will face? The funding issues facing the VCU student body, versus the campus will remain an issue for the General Assembly, the students, the administration of VCU, and the City of Richmond.

Works Cited – MLA
"Social Explorer." Social Explorer. Web.

Kapsidelis, Karin. "VCU Advances Plan for 12-story Dorm across from Monroe Park." Richmond Times Dispatch. 23 Mar. 2016. Web. .
Asma, Stephen. "The Myth of Universal Love." Opinionator The Myth of Universal Love Comments. 5 Jan. 2013. .
Michael Sandel – “Who Deserves What? / Aristotle.” From Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? By Michael J. Sandel. Copyright 2009 by Michael J. Sandel.

Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Peter Singer – “The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle.” Reprinted by permission. 1997 New Internationalist Magazine.

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