By The Cardinal Staff:
The university and SGA are once again in a conflict over the proposed renovation of the East Wing of the Student Activities Center.
The plan, which was included in the 2011 Student Recreation Center report, stated that the gym space should be used for student lounge and meeting space once the SRC opened.
Since then, a plan has been developed to renovate the space to include convocation space and meeting rooms. Until a few weeks ago, the space was set to be ready by fall 2015. According to Tim Moore, director of student involvement, they have also received a general contractor bid and could start within two to three weeks.
The bond needed to pay for the renovation has already been granted, and the plans are all in place for it to be paid off by the student building fee.
The student building fee is a $15 per semester fee that has been in place since 1983. It was initially created to pay for the SAC, and has since paid off the debt from its construction and paid for things such as new chairs or carpet. Business and Finance, University Planning, and Student Involvement offices have traditionally come together to make those purchases with student needs in mind.
For the past few years, they have held onto the money in order to pay for the SAC East renovation.
In October 2013, SGA President Carrie Mattingly said, “We could really start tomorrow.”
Yet now, a year and a half later, no real progress has been made. And for what reason?
The university has consistently moved the goal posts on a student-supported project, being paid for by student money.
First, they tried to give some of the space to Athletics for $2 million last year. After students rejected this, Provost Willihnganz and President Ramsey agreed to let the project go forward as planned.
University officials broke this guarantee on Feb. 24 when they told the SGA Senate that they wanted to delay the initial plan in order to renovate the whole building, forcing an even longer delay before students can use the valued space.
Harlan Sands, the university’s CFO/COO, mentioned in the last SGA Senate meeting that partners in dining and retail are coming to the table. In addition, U of L Athletics will be involved in the new plan, which administration will bring to the Senate at the April 7 meeting.
By hijacking the student plan, with the help of these groups, the university is ignoring student interests in favor of money-making entities such as Sodexo or U of L Athletics.
Students give these entities enough already, and more does not need to be taken from what little space students already have.
It is time for U of L to recognize that without its students, this institution would not exist. When students ask for their interests to be heard, they are not asking too much.
Student government should be more than just a rubber stamp for the university to use and ignore.
It is also time for SGA to follow through on their plan to stand up for student space, just like they did last year with the ‘Students First’ petition.
This space was built for students, paid for by students and promised to students. The university must accept this and move forward with the renovation as planned.