Students should be excited about UMD’s space in Amazon’s HQ2

The Amazon store by Terrapin Row on April 16, 2018. (Elliot Scarangello / The Diamondback).

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

The University of Maryland makes a lot of questionable decisions, including maintaining poor on-campus housing well past its prime and terminating umd-secure (rest in power). Still, this university is capable of doing some things right — such as leasing office space near Amazon’s HQ2 in Crystal City. This decision is one that is genuinely beneficial to both students and the school. 

Through this “Discovery Center,” students in the business, computer, mathematical and natural sciences, engineering, information studies schools will be able to attend lectures and symposiums held in the building. Whether classes will be held there remains dependent on a licensing issue, but regardless, the Discovery Center will serve as a launchpad for exciting opportunities and chances for Terps to establish themselves through such proximity to Amazon and access to its resources. 

The Discovery Center also allows for this university to demonstrate itself as a regional technology powerhouse. Of all D.C, Maryland and Virginia universities and colleges, this university’s new 8,000 square foot space is the closest to Amazon. The next nearest is Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus, which is a Metro ride away. Thus, students will have an advantage over other students in the region with their proximity to HQ2, hopefully translating their experiences into prioritized employment opportunities after they graduate. 

Not only will students be able to enjoy the perks of being right next to HQ2, but so will the university. This is a move that makes this university look good for prospective students and donors, bringing in money in a way that benefits administration and supports students at the same time. It’s a strategic decision to do something powerfully positive after the university’s highly publicized series of blunders and miscommunications over the past several years. 

However, while the opening of the Discovery Center should be lauded as an accomplishment by the university administration for its students, it’s easy to see it as a move that advocates solely for the advancement of STEM majors. This is an issue that should be alleviated with some effort from the university. Before the Discovery Center opens, programs and job opportunities can be offered to humanities majors as well; jobs in communications, public affairs, public policy and more will spring up as a part of Amazon’s needs. This university can and should provide opportunities for all students, whether studying STEM or not, to find a place for themselves at the Discovery Center and with Amazon. 

This university prides itself as a place of innovation. The Discovery Center will benefit students through increased exposure and access to internships, jobs and connections for a successful future. It benefits the university through heightened name recognition and prestige. So, for all of the inane decrees and choices this university has made in the past, the opening of the Discovery Center is a thing to look forward to.

Maya Rosenberg is a sophomore journalism and public policy major. She can be reached at maya.b.rosenberg@gmail.com.

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