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GSU grapples with funding woes, buildings across campus in need of repair

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Broken windows paint a stark picture of repairs needed on GSU's campus. Broken windows paint a stark picture of repairs needed on GSU's campus.
GRAMBLING, La. -

"See Our Struggle" -- that's the message behind images posted on Twitter by Grambling State University football player Naquan Smith.

Pictures of moldy walls and ceilings, broken equipment and flooring, highlighting some of the problems that led to a team boycott last week.

The team's troubles made news around the world, but students and administrators say the problem is campus-wide and money is at the root of the issue.

Going back to 2007-08 school year, the university's general fund budget was just over $31 million.

This year's budget is less than half that, at just under $14 million.

Virtually every window is broken out in the old C.D. Henry Natatorium at GSU.

It's a stark illustration of the work that lies ahead for many buildings on campus.

"That's something that's been on the agenda for quite some time," explains Communications Director Will Sutton.

But that item on the agenda is one of the few with a solution in sight.

Sutton says increased student fees helped pay for a new planned Health and Wellness Center.

Right now, the university is facing over $24 million in just the top five categories of Deferred Maintenance Needs, a total of $45 million altogether.T

Those are much-needed repairs and upgrades for building across campus that there's simply no money for.

$9 million of that is made up of air conditioning, reroofing, and flooring replacement needs in buildings like the A.C. Lewis Memorial Library and Woodson Hall that are still waiting in the wings.

"When you have your state funding cut 57% twice a year, budget cuts, it's very difficult to maintain the level of academic excellence that you desire," says Sutton.

"The upper classmen's buildings are better than the underclassmen's," says GSU Freshman Desmond Hoard.

Students say some buildings are better than others, but Sutton says it's not just the structures around campus that are feeling the strain.

The school has had to reduce its academic degree programs from 67 to 47 and lay off 21 employees just this year.

"Faculty are having to step up and teach more courses. That's not the best thing."

Sutton says administration is meeting daily to try and get a handle on prioritizing the work that needs to be done with what money there is available.

He says the football program saw a $75,000 cut this year, and the school is expecting another round of cuts before Christmas.

However, there are some improvements underway on campus. The school is currently in the middle of a federally funded beautification project.

That project includes a totally revamped student square with new landscaping, irrigation system, and a consistent theme throughout the grounds.

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