Field of Dreams
When they build it, we will pay. The Union needs to be either renovated or rebuilt. Students should have a say in how the money will be raised.
When the the new Memorial Student Union is built, the students will pay. The question is: will we pay via a tuition increase or a student fee?
Recently, the administration surveyed students, asking if they would support a student fee to pay for a new Union. Only 500 students, however, are making decisions for a campus of more than 32,000 students who use the Union.
The fact is students will have to help pay for a new Union, whether through a student fee or through a tuition increase. This student fee will be larger than past fees. Arizona Daily Wildcat statistics and numbers Adams furnished from the Association of College Unions International, show that student fees for unions range from $0 to more than $100 per semester. The median is $75 per semester.
The university administration has indicated a commitment of $25 million from miscellaneous sources, which the Union would not be obligated to pay back. A study done five years ago placed the cost of the replacement of the Union at $50 million; the number is probably now closer to $75 million. The balance of the costs needs to come from somewhere, most likely the students.
Let's assume that the student fee for a new Union will be $75 per semester. Unlike other universities, where state governments pay for renovations, UA cannot expect any money from the disinterested state legislature. If the student fee does not pass a st udent referendum, there will be a tuition increase.
The difference between a student fee and a tuition increase is that after X number of years, the student fee will end. With a tuition increase, tuition will never go back to the pre-existing rate. Also, with the fee, the students would have a voice in the amount of the fee, which makes it a better choice. With a tuition increase, the Arizona Board of Regents would set the increase.
There needs to be a new Union to serve as a centerpiece on campus, and it needs student support, even though many would pay the fee without ever seeing the results.
There are, however, a few problems with a fee.
First, Adams said the fee would be for the life of the bond, 20 to 30 years. This is unacceptable for the students' best interests. Five years after the Union is finished, the fee should end. That would give the Union time to begin making a profit while a lleviating some of the financial pressures.
Second, the administration needs to sign a contract stating that the fee will be lifted after a pre-determined amount of time and the money raised will only go to the payment of the bonds. The students should not have to see a repeat of what happened with the Student Recreation Center fee.
Third, the Union needs to be actively recruiting a corporate sponsor. Yes, that would be selling the soul of the Union. We live in an age of consumerism and if a corporation is willing to give millions to the Union, then the administration should not be s o righteous - take the friggin' money and rename the building.
The students need to have vision and do what is necessary - approve a student fee, be it $25 or $125 per semester.
If the university abides by the students' wishes and their suggestions, then everyone will win.
By Editoral Staff