Plans unveiled for Student Center expansion

    Plans for the first wave of expansions to the Student Center were announced at the quarterly Student Center Town Meeting on Oct. 7.

    Hanna Hsu

    Representatives from student organizations and campus offices were on hand when various construction projects for the complex were unveiled by Gary Ratcliff, director of the University Centers.

    The Women’s Center and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Office have chosen to construct their future, permanent facilities between Mandeville and the north side of the current Student Center.

    Ratcliff said that the Women’s Center, the LGBT Resource Office and the Cross-Cultural Center have always known that their sites were temporary.

    “”These three groups have been in the process of evaluating possible sites for relocation for some time,”” Ratcliff said. “”All three wanted to be around high-traffic student areas.””

    The Cross-Cultural Center has opted to set its sights on relocation to the future expansion site of the Price Center, whereas the other two groups decided to remain adjacent to the Student Center.

    All three programs are funded through the chancellor’s office, according to Ratcliff.

    “”All of the construction will be funded by the chancellor because these groups are funded by the chancellor,”” Ratcliff said. “”They have student oriented, academic missions. Thereby, the funds for that project do not come from the Student Center.””

    The plans for the expansion site are part of a capacity study drawn by an outside company called Studio E Architects, according to Ratcliff. The study designated four areas immediately surrounding the Student Center where future expansion would be feasible. The area selected by the Women’s Center and the LGBT Resource Office is one of these locations. Their site offers 9,500- square feet of building potential. The remaining three areas highlighted by the architects would offer an additional 5,500 square feet of building potential.

    Though Ratcliff noted that any serious or extensive renovations to the existing Student Center will not be undertaken by his office in the near future, he did remark that the building could use a “”facelift.””

    “”We can’t make a broad-sweeping statement that we are going to improve everybody’s space,”” he said. “”There are issues of responsibility in special situations regarding the co-ops.””

    While the administration has previously proposed fee referendums with the purpose of funding university expansion, Ratcliff said that he does not want to have to rely on the passage of a referendum.

    “”Some also think we should wait for future referendums and the resulting influx of dollars,”” he said. “”But my mindset is that we shouldn’t wait to do what we can.””

    One such fee referendum was turned down by undergraduate voters in 2001.

    There are numerous, smaller remodeling programs already underway, or close to completion, such as replacing the carpet inside the Student Center offices and the planned Pub Stage renovation.

    Newer plans mentioned at the meeting concerned the lack of interior seating and general meeting places both in and out of doors at the Student Center. Already underway is a project to install new seating by the grassy knoll known as the “”Hump,”” as well as around the second floor. In total, there will eventually be about 125 new seats available in and around the Student Center.

    The Student Center reserve funds will fund all of the smaller projects mentioned. Ratcliff maintains that there will not be a need for any sort of student-decided fee referendum in those cases. Completion of the various projects is slated for spring 2005.

    James Lynch, University Centers Advisory Board chair, said that there is discussion of further expansion of both the Student Center and the Price Center.

    “”Both the Student Center and the Price Center are running at or above capacity now with regards to the number of students they serve,”” Lynch said.

    “”There has been a task force chartered by [the A.S. Council] to consider these issues,”” he said. “”There will be a couple of surveys out this fall to gauge the student desire for expansion. There is definite potential for student referendums either this winter or spring to fund this future expansion.””

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