University Student Union fees will be rising once again in the fall if the Student Recreation Center referendum passes at the polls on April 17-18.
The newly proposed Student REC Center would cost approximately $70 million and encompass 125,000 square feet. It would include gymnasium courts, a rock climbing wall, indoor jogging track, an outdoor pool complex, weight and fitness space, and more.
This addition would not be completed until the school year 2011-12, but the USU fees will increase gradually until then.
The fee will increase from the current $120 to $145 in 2007-08, $155 in 2008-09, $165 in 2009-10, $175 in 2010-11, $250 in 2011-12, and finally $253 in 2012-13, as printed in the Student Recreation Center Voter’s Guide.
“One of the important things to remember is that the students have expressed an interest in this, it’s not the board who thought it up and said, ‘This would be a good idea,'” said Debra Hammond, executive director of the USU.
With the help of Brailsford ‘ Dunlavey, a facility planning firm, the USU put forth a survey and conducted a feasibility study, all of which led them to the proposition.
Out of the 8,000 students polled, 13 percent expressed an interest in the project and chose the larger facility of the two being proposed, Hammond said. The smaller option was to cover 90,000 square feet.
Thirteen percent is statistically valid when doing such a survey, Hammond said. If 13 percent showed interest then it would commonly go to a wider vote.
Other universities, such as University of California Irvine, already have recreation centers of the magnitude being proposed. It will benefit campus life, creating greater spirits and continually serve as a functioning facility for students, said Colin Donahue, associate vice president of facilities, development and operations.
When asked about alternative options for funding, such as increase in membership fees rather than an increase in USU fees, Donahue said, “We need a solid financial plan and if you based it solely on membership fees it can be very variable. It’s the typical way these projects are done.”
Outside of the annual fee increase, the center, once built, will be free to all CSUN students.
The USU is still considering its options on how it can help benefit the graduating students who will be paying the increased fees but be graduating before the facility is opened. One option is that those students will get a discounted membership to the center after their graduation, according to the voter’s guide.
“Each group of students has the ability, and the responsibility, to look for the overall good of the campus and look back at what previous groups have done for them,” Donahue said. “It’s a continuing cycle. We want this campus to be first of all a campus we are proud of, but also a first choice for students.”
Kyle Durnbaugh, a freshman business major, said, “As long as the students and the people paying for it are benefiting from it in some way, I think it’s a good idea.”
Not all students agreed.
Jessica Martinez, an English major, said, “I think that a lot of students don’t use the facilities here because it’s a commuter school, so I am against it. Plus, it’s just too expensive.”
Ian Cowan, co-president of the Communication Association, said, “I don’t really know where I stand on this issue but right now there just seems to be more important issues to be dealing with. It seems like this is a diversion tactic because there are a lot more important issues going on (around) campus that the university needs our money for and we are going to be paying for something and not see where the money is going for a while. There is just a lot of controversy going on about them raising our tuition, but supposedly the rec center has nothing to do with it. They are trying to separate them but in reality it is all just about money.”
One of the issues that the USU has been faced with over the years is students’ complaints about availability of the fitness center. The size of the current fitness center causes students to have to wait for machines, Hammond said.
“I think that all of this can be resolved by hours of availability,” said Ben, a music major. “Instead of creating a new building they can just leave the current one open longer. It’s just a waste of money.”
He went on to say that he would be interested in using the current facility but his schedule and the facility’s limited hours prevents him from doing so.
Other students sympathized with the USU.
“I don’t like paying for something that I won’t benefit from, but I guess somebody has to,” said business major Devin Vos.