Mar 092010
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Taking advantage of the favorable construction climate, Facilities Management may ask students to pitch an additional $300 in facilities fees per year to fund five major construction projects on the university’s wish list.

The downside of seizing on low construction costs and great interest rates is the increased burden on students, which rides on the coattails of a 9 percent tuition increase. The combination of tuition and fee increases is risking the affordability of the university, CSU President Tony Frank said in an open discussion about future construction Tuesday.

“The simple fact is that students and parents will write from the same checking account to cover those increases,” Frank said, adding that as a parent, he understands that it is “much less important” where the money is going, just that the demand is higher.

Kevin Whitley, an engineering graduate student, suggested charging fees only to those who would reap the benefits of the renovations and expansions, but Frank said the measure would put a larger burden on a smaller group of students.

“A higher education degree is a very tricky thing in life. It’s value can change after you buy it,” Frank said, adding that the value of a degree can fluctuate with the prestige and reputation of the university.

When considering the pros and cons of the increase, students should keep in mind that CSU’s student facilities fee is the lowest in the state, said Zach Laraway, who represents the College of Natural Resources on the University Facility Fee Advisory Board, UFFAB.

UFFAB, which is made up of student representatives from each college and provides recommendations regarding the Student Facilities Fee, is charged with examining the pros and cons of the suggested $10 per-credit, per-semester increase –– an average of $150 per semester per full-time student –– and will dictate whether or not the proposal will be made.

If approved by UFFAB, facilities will pitch the plan to the Student Fee Review Board, which makes recommendations on how the university spends $25 million in student fees each year.

UFFAB, Frank said, could come back to the table and deny any possibility of an increase, or it could agree that a fee increase is needed. He suggested lowering the figure.

After discussion by UFFAB, the fee increase could be reduced from $10 to $3 per-credit, per semester, said Director of Facilities Management Brian Chase.

The projects that Frank and his cabinet have put on CSU’s priority list include:

  • Expansion of The Morgan Library
  • Expansion of The Institute of Learning and Teaching
  • Expansion of Eddy Hall
  • Renovation of The Animal Science Building
  • Renovation of various classrooms on campus, and
  • Creation of an Engineering II Building.

As a whole, these construction endeavors are estimated to cost $103 million.

Ann Gill, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, showed pictures of decaying ceiling tiles and broken walls during her presentation in support of renovating the Eddy Building.

“What’s needed in Eddy is maintenance and a facelift,” Gill said. “Not only do I think you all need better classrooms, but this is the building we use for Preview CSU.” Preview CSU is the series of tours and meetings many prospective students go through before enrolling at the university.

UFFAB was not given a deadline for its decision, but student fee recommendations must be made to administration before the final budget proposal is sent to the CSU System Board of Governors in May.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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