Jan 282008
Authors: Shannon Hurley

Following years of student feedback and anticipating a growing student body, Campus Recreation will present a controversial plan to expand the Student Recreation Center to include more equipment and space for its users for the second time this academic year at Wednesday night’s student government meeting.

If approved, the expansion would cost over $32 million and be funded by student fees, which would increase by at least $30.

Student government is divided over the idea that would cost students more money and has what some call questionable priority implications.

Byron Moore, Associated Students of CSU Liberal Arts senator, said the proposal shows the University’s ignorance to other problems plaguing students at CSU, including the tuition crisis.

“I think it shows how wrong spending priorities may be on campus,” Moore said. “I want someone to answer candidly, not to give me a little PR presentation.”

Campus Recreation Director Judy Muenchow presented the proposal to ASCSU last semester after a series of university-conducted surveys that showed most students would be in support of an expansion. She was bombarded with questions from the Senate on the merit of the proposal.

“We started surveying students and they we’re going to local health clubs because (our Recreation Center) is too crowded,” Muenchow said. “There are not enough basketball courts (and) everyone wants a climbing wall.”

Those needs, combined with President Larry Penley’s stretch goal to increase the student population by five to six thousand, compelled the Recreation staff to evaluate the current facility’s efficiency and measure of accommodation, Muenchow said.

“Can you imagine another 5,000 students in that building?” she said.

With an average of 4,000 users each day since 2002, Campus Recreation has seen attendance level off, a fact that Muenchow said demonstrates the need for the expansion.

A similar trend in attendance occurred in the years leading up to a student referendum to expand the recreation center in 1998, which increased use of the facility sharply in the following years.

The costs of the project, Muenchow insists, are outweighed by the benefits to the campus community.

A full-time student’s $30-$35 fee increase per semester would fund the enhancements that include doubling the amount of cardio and weights equipment as well as basketball and volleyball court space, along with the addition of a climbing wall.

Of the Student Recreation Center’s 105,000 square feet, 75,000 will be reconfigured.

This will be accomplished with the renovation of both male and female locker rooms, expansion of the female locker room, addition of restrooms on the second floor, expansion of the spa, addition of a sauna and steam room and renovation of the track.

The entrance will also be moved to the southeast corner of the building.

Though she is undecided about the expansion, ASCSU senator and Student Fee Review Board member Katie Freudenthal emphasized the recreation staff’s commitment to fostering student involvement.

“They’ve really been trying to get student input,” she said. “It’s definitely needed.”

ASCSU member Claire Overturf agrees that an enhanced Recreation Center would better accommodate both the mental and physical health of students.

“My mental clarity and my mental health is highly related to my endorphins,” Overturf said.

Others are not as optimistic. Muenchow’s presentation to ASCSU last semester of the proposed expansion has left Moore asking for more details and questioning priorities.

Moore will get his answers on Wednesday night when Muenchow will clarify the cost and demand for the project at ASCSU’s Senate meeting and present her student findings to the association.

“What students don’t understand,” Muenchow said, “is that the money through student fees can only be used for construction purposes.”

No money is being taken away from academics or even athletics, she said.

Muenchow said she has a pretty good idea of students’ desires after meeting personally with over 300 students last semester to discuss their recreation and health needs, as well as compiling over 1,500 student survey responses.

“The general summary is yeah, go for it!” said Muenchow, “This is the right project at the right time.”

Staff writer Shannon Hurley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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