State law hinders options for best building opportunities

Editorial Board


 Issue: Having to cut corners and choose the lowest bid on school construction leaves possible risks to students.

On Sunday, April 6, materials of the Wellness Center fell off the overhang due to possible water leaking into an air pocket.

This incident, seems bizarre since the building itself is rather young, however after looking at South Dakota laws, it shows us that the university has to build these new structures at the lowest cost possible. 

In the fall of 2008, SDSU reopened the Wellness Center after pumping $12.1 million into creating a health and counseling services, pharmacy and new exercise equipment.

It is a main point of use for students and is subject to more expansion only six years after its creation. 

Now we understand that accidents happen, however, we feel that this building is far too young to have any sort of cosmetic damages as substantial as the soffit materials falling down. South Dakota State is the largest institution in the state and our students require facilities to be in prime shape for their use. 

Going with the lowest bidder can cause problems similar to those that happened on Sunday and what happened to The Union in January.

If there was more thought and the we had the ability to go with higher bids, issues like this could be avoided completely. 

Any project that costs more than $1,000 is subject to becoming part of a bid by the university or whoever is the purchasing party in the state of South Dakota. South Dakota statute 5-18A-5 (7) writes that “The contract shall be awarded within thirty days of the bid opening by written notice to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder whose bid meets the requirements and criteria set forth in the invitation for bids. “ 

This limits our expansion to the lowest caliber which can cause frustration and obvious safety hazards to everyone who steps foot in these facilities. 

Thankfully, there was no one standing underneath the overhang of the Wellness Center when the materials fell. If the unfortunate happened and someone was hit with these materials, injury is inevitable.

Is the possible injury or even death of a student or community member a justifiable reason to cut corners? 

If we want to have a strong university, we need to make sure we’re building the infrastructure the strongest way we can. With expansion constantly in talks here, it’s worrisome that these are the laws that have to be followed when building. 

No real numbers have been said, since it’s so early, but the cost of repair for the Wellness Center overhang might cost more than taking a higher bid. 

There isn’t much sense in building something cheap and fast then having to repair and discussing expanding every half-decade. 

Stance: The school should be choosing the best bid, not necessarily the cheapest bid. Quality is important, especially when students safety is involved