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SGA wins ‘The Space Race,’ Provost responds
By Jacob Abrahamson–
Provost Shirley Willihnganz has made the decision to allow the old gym space in the Student Activities Center (SAC) to be renovated to include meeting rooms and convocation space. This decision confirms the plan offered by the Student Government Association (SGA).
In a statement to all students, SGA President Carrie Mattingly confirmed the approval. “The SGA executive leadership will be working closely with university officials to determine the details of the renovation,” said Mattingly.
The decision came a few days after the SGA launched the “Students First” initiative, which included a petition and rally plans. According to Mattingly, the petition received the signature of around 800 students. The initiative was begun by a resolution to keep the space for SGA which was unanimously approved by the SGA Student Senate.
Athletics originally wanted part of the space to be used for the cheerleading team and Ladybirds. The team currently has to practice at a space in Indiana, which has led to inconvenience and problems in their practice schedule.
“I felt that I had two very legitimate sets of needs,” said Willihnganz. “My actions were always focused on how we could move forwards with the best interest of students at the heart of the issue.
As a compromise, a larger expansion onto the SAC was suggested. In the interim, the two of the basketball courts would be used by spirit teams for two years while money could be raised to pay for the expansion which would “fulfill a longer term need for all kinds of additional space for everybody and produce a win/win scenario,” according to Willhnganz.
The plan to attempt a $20-25 million renovation was rejected with the recent SGA resolution.
“Once the resolution passed I talked to the President [James Ramsey], and while I was disappointed that our students would not approve the interim plan, we agreed that the renovation could proceed,” said Willihnganz.
The space is set to be renovated “as soon as possible,” according to Mattingly, and will be funded by the Student Building Fee bundled with tuition.
“The renovation will move forward within the limits of the budget that the student fee on the SAC can generate,” said Willihnganz. The fee is also used to maintain the building and pay for future repairs and updates.
In the aftermath of this decision, the spirit teams currently remain without a practice space, and the larger expansion on the SAC is not set to happen.
“I’m working with athletics to try to find a solution, which will probably involve moving something else out of space it currently occupies,” said Willihnganz. “This is disappointing since I think all of our students could have benefited more if we’d given the larger project a chance.”
Willihnganz pointed out that this should not be seen as a fight between student and the university administration. She claims that the SGA petition portrays it in that way.
“That was simply wrong, and the misrepresentation of the conversations I had had with SGA was very unfair to athletics, and, frankly, to all of us.”
“I was very careful in advising students who put together and shared the petition to appropriately represent both sides,” said Mattingly in response to this claim. “I do not think anything was misrepresented based on my experience in SGA over the past few years, but I will meet with leadership on this topic soon and plan to ask about what they feel was misrepresented.”