In “Maine Voices: Money earmarked for prayer room at USM could be much better spent” (Dec. 21), Krysteana Scribner makes several sour assertions. As a Long Island taxpayer and father of a current University of Southern Maine freshman, I view differently how the college chooses to spend money.

Balancing the need to build new facilities and to attend to deferred maintenance, USM made the commitment to renovate bathrooms, designating one as gender-neutral. Given that none had outlets, electrical and plumbing costs were more than updates to the meditation space. Yes, the student government office was relocated. Representatives now have “prime real estate,” centrally located near the dining hall, that lets them reach out to their constituents more consistently to gain a better pulse on the diverse student body.

The Woodbury Campus Center’s future is unclear. A new career center-student union is in USM’s future, but the master plan is not finalized. The proposed renovations could take three years, a long time to delay student support.

These actions are not premature, but belated. In a demographically challenged state like Maine, USM has done well to push forward. These modifications hopefully eliminate inconvenience and retain enrollment, as attracting and keeping students are the top priorities for today’s American colleges.

One of the few schools to lower average student debt, USM offers over $11 million in scholarships, but you can’t give financial assistance to students who don’t exist. Students in the Honors Program can study in Iceland and other countries as part of their tuition. Initially not pleased with campus food options, my vegan daughter approached USM President Glenn Cummings with ideas, and he listened.

This same university president stood on College Avenue on USM’s Gorham campus during move-in day, greeting families patiently waiting in cars to find their way. Cummings appears energetically open to spending prudently on USM’s present and future, an investment gaining interest.

Darren Redman

Long Island