Last February, professors and students working in the Clapp Building told the Kaimin that masking tape on the ceiling tiles was UM’s defense against their crumbling and potentially releasing asbestos particles into the air. 

While the decades-old Clapp Building constructed in 1971 received funding for renovations of its top two floors in 2008, more than a decade has passed without any further progress. Proposals submitted to the Montana Board of Regents for further asbestos abatement remain unapproved while tiles rot above the heads of staff, students and professors. Above those tiles rests deteriorated bits of fireproofing-made from the carcinogenic material that permeates the building.

The presence of asbestos in the Clapp Building is not only dangerous to the people in the building, but it also prevents improvements to the building like installing projectors in classrooms, according to Andrew Ware, professor and chair in the University’s department of physics and astronomy, last January.

Yet, the University is choosing to prioritize renovations in two of the most recently constructed buildings on campus – Pantzer Hall and the Fitness and Recreation Building. As part of the new retail bonds UM received in September, it is spending over $5 million on these two projects, most of which are cosmetic improvements.

UM Housing will add a new color scheme to the inside and the outside of the building, replace furniture and install new carpet in Pantzer Hall. It is the newest dorm on campus, built in 1995. The dorm’s $4 million renovation costs about half of what it cost to build it. 

“The things that you see and notice will be all newly done,” the Missoula campus architect for the University of Montana, Jameel Chaudhry told the Kaimin in a recent interview.

Campus Rec will also be spending over $1 million on a cosmetic renovation to the Fitness and Recreation Building over the summer. The department is concerned about ten year old equipment, slower wifi in the basement and unappealing paint .

Well, kudos to UM for taking care of these very pressing problems. Campus health and safety will just have to wait.