As Friday night comes around, students quickly gather their books and belongings after classes and head away from school to participate in various evening diversions.
If plans for the new Student Life and Wellness Center continue to proceed smoothly, the new structure will offer students a place to spend not only Friday evenings, but a place to enjoy some downtime any day of the week.
“We are a commuter campus, so it makes sense to have a place for students to participate in activities together,” said student Lauren Wignall.
On Aug. 27, student representatives came before the State Board of Regents and received approval for the new building. This project is only in the beginning stages and will have to be approved by the State Building Board in October. It will then be presented to the State Legislature in the spring.
“We are proposing to build in the parking lot just south of the library,” said Val Peterson, VP of administration and legislative affairs. “As part of this request, we will also build a parking structure in Lot L, that would have 536 parking stalls.”
If approval is met at each stage, construction on the building will most likely begin in the fall of 2011, according to Peterson.
“The life and wellness building will have several purposes, but one is to have additional space for student life and student life activities here on campus,” Peterson said. “We want to have a place that students can go that will enhance their student experience.”
This project has been in the idea phase for years, but according to Student Body President Richard Portwood, the timing is perfect. The bond on the current student center will be coming off in the near future, which will leave a portion of student fees open to be used for a new student center.
Although a good portion of student fees being used to pay for the current student center will soon be placed in a fund for the new center, the new building will cost around $40 million. Therefore, student fees will have to be raised marginally to buffer the cost of the structure.
While many students appreciate the purpose of the proposed building, they remain reticent to the idea of raising student fees.
“I would care if they raised student fees. We are already so tight with money,” said student Edwin Brock Miner.
It is proposed that over a five-year period, student fees will increase by $45. This year, they have been raised $5, followed by $12 next year; however, student government will assess the need for student fees to complete the building each subsequent year. They will not be raised any more than necessary, according to Portwood.
Even though some students do not welcome the increase in student fees, others feel the value of the new building is worth the cost.
“It’s not that much extra money per year and, yes, I could use it elsewhere, but I am proud of my school and if I’m not willing to give a little extra money per year for my school, what does that say about me,” said student Gerrit Greer. “I think it would make the university look more credible and would be a good place for students to go.”
It has been proposed that during the planning phase, extensive input from the student government should be allowed in regards to design and layout. If approved, the student government will be reaching out to students through surveys and focus groups to determine how to fill the space in a way that would serve the student population best.