During this current academic year and after much deliberation, the Student Fee Review Board and the Associated Students of CSU approved the Recreation Center expansion due to strong student demand voiced in student surveys.
During the Senate debate, opposition to the expansion cited the ailing condition of our academic buildings as the reason why renovations to the Rec. Center should wait.
Now that the Rec. Center issue has passed with student approval, students are still left with academic buildings in a diminished state.
ASCSU has picked up the banner to look for a solution that emphasizes the need for a higher quality academic environment.
ASCSU’s initial focus was on the asbestos contained in some academic buildings — for example, the Clark building.
After raising questions about the concerns of the health of our student body, ASCSU now knows that the health risk posed to the students is minimal, thanks to Eric March, university health and safety specialist, and Brian Chase, director of Facilities Management. They said the asbestos is safely contained and that it would take a malicious act to release the asbestos to affect the student body’s health being.
However, ASCSU is still concerned about our academic environment.
There is a $145 million backlog in maintenance budgeting on our academic buildings, according to Chase. As the student body’s representatives, we find that number unacceptable and feel something should be done to improve the lack of classroom renovations.
ASCSU has been informed that a complete renovation of Clark isn’t feasible due to high costs and time constraints of classroom schedules. Instead, Facilities Management has chosen to renovate the building incrementally.
This summer, some C-wing classrooms in Clark are scheduled for renovation, and next year, some A-wing classrooms will also get touch-ups. Four million dollars has been allocated to this project, $2 million from administration and at least $2 million from the Colorado General Assembly. In addition, close to $7 million was allocated to Facilities this year to deal with maintenance requests.
Even though this is a step in the right direction and we agree with incremental renovation, it is just a dent in the maintenance backlog, and the process needs to be stepped up.
ASCSU believes that given the rising costs of tuition and student fees, students at CSU are entitled to a quality academic environment provided by the Colorado General Assembly and the administration.
We would like to see administration set aside some funds on a yearly basis for much needed renovations. What we don’t want is this process to be financed by student fees, and ASCSU won’t accept that as a solution.
Getting this commitment from administration is the first step in achieving our goal, and so far, our preliminary meetings have gone well and left us hopeful. We feel that we will eventually get some kind of commitment, but a louder student voice will hasten the expediency of this process.
The second step in this process is creating the process itself. How will students have a voice?
One possibility that has been considered is using the General Student Course Survey, which has been recently revised by ASCSU so we can gauge student opinion on the condition of the classrooms they inhabit.
ASCSU’s next step would be to use these results to collaborate with the process that the University Facility Fee Advisory Board and the University Technology Fee Advisory Board use to prioritize their list of classroom refreshments and upgrades. With UFFAB’s and UTFAB’s collaboration and supervision, ASCSU will be able to make effective improvements to which all students can bear witness.
These improvements that enhance the academic standard of living at CSU are the end for which ASCSU is searching, and your voice as students is the instrument ASCSU needs for this positive change to occur.
Cooper Anderson, a freshman agricultural business major, and Ben Weiner, a sophomore computer science major, are ASCSU senators. Trevor Trout, a senior business administration major, is the vice president of ASCSU. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.