By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat February 18, 1997
Officials confident fee survey shows student supportFifty-four percent of UA students surveyed said they are willing to pay an additional activity fee each semester to rebuild and expand the Memorial Student Union.
Dean of Students Melissa Vito said the results demonstrated overall support for a new union. The survey, which polled 500 students, was completed by the Tucson research firm FMR Associates Inc.
"It validated previous information we had and told us some new things," Vito said.
Dan Adams, director of University of Arizona Student Unions, said if he was a student asked to pay a fee, he would want more information before he could decide.
Adams said that there is no doubt that something needs to be done about the Student Union as soon as possible. He said the difficulty disabled students have getting to certain parts of the Student Union is embarrassing, and he called the building "ugly."
"It would be naive to say it (the Student Union) is a building. It's more than a building," Adams said. "The Student Union is the key indication as to what the students mean to the campus."
Vito said a union fee would be more "student friendly" than other proposed fees because so many students use the Union.
Adams said he felt convinced that students would support a new Student Union and added that the survey indicated they would be willing to get out and vote on it.
According to the survey, 83 percent of students said they eat in the Student Union. Eighty-five percent of students surveyed said they would be "somewhat likely" to vote in a student referendum concerning a proposed activity fee.
Adams also said he hoped the Student Union could be funded through a mixture of financing efforts so that the entire burden would not be shouldered by students.
Vito said, "It has to go beyond students for support."
The cost of building a new Student Union is still undetermined, Adams said. He said his office is contracting a consulting firm in Colorado to explore the various options.
Adams and Vito said they were uncomfortable giving a dollar figure for the new Student Union, but both agreed the project will be costly - maybe around $50 million.
"We already know it is in the $15 million to $20 million range to clean it up," Adams said.
Vito said an approximate cost should be available in the next two to three weeks.
Both Adams and Vito said they were confident in the survey's results. They thought the results reflected a willingness among students to help build a new Student Union.
"This whole process was us doing our homework," Vito said.
Vito said the information was gathered with a method almost identical to the campus climate survey conducted last semester.
"It really gave us a chance to use research as a sounding board," Adams said.
Vito said the Dean of Students Office, in cooperation with the Student Union and the UA Associated Students Bookstore, spent $9,000 to conduct the survey.
According to a report FMR provided to the Dean of Students Office with the results, the statistical variation for the survey is plus or minus 4.5 percent, and the survey has a 95 percent confidence level, which means if the survey were repeated 100 times, 95 of those times would yield the same results.