Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 6, 1998

With Union on fast track, ASUA needs to lead

The Memorial Student Union is not an impressive building.

It's shabby, rundown and leaks when there is rain. As the would-be centerpiece of student life at the University of Arizona, the building is a bunch of dead petunias.

This has all been said before and for years. We've heard about the approximately $14 million it will take to get the building up to code and remove the asbestos, among other things. Finally, following the near 3-to-1 drubbing the proposed $40-a-semester student fee for renovations received in November, there appears to be real movement on the issue.

The Arizona Board of Regents Friday voted unanimously to grant the UA exceptions to seven different board policies in order to put the Student Union project in high gear. Practically, the board of regent's decision means the Student Union project will be open to team bids from architects and contractors. In fact, the project could break ground in June 1999.

The drive toward last semester's Student Union referendum was marked by the inability of the Student Union Task Force and the Associated Students government to find an argument to convince students to fork over 80 additional dollars every year. Unfortunately, There was nothing tangible to sell the students. The UA administration has moved in the last three months to assert itself on the Student Union project. The board of regent's vote is the first public step in that new attempt.

Questions remain as to how the $60 million project will be paid for. According to the proposal the regents voted on, the project will be funded by a combination of Student Union and UA Associated Students Bookstore revenue, as well as contracts, bonds and fund raising. A student fee may also be necessary "to fund the balance of the project budget."

Now more than ever, it is imperative that the Associated Students government work as a conduit between administrators and the student body. The new ASUA administration and Senate should commit to gathering information about what students want from a new Student Union and contribute that data to the coming plan.

ASUA president-elect Tara Taylor and her administration should not shirk their duty to represent the views of the students on the Student Union. If nothing else, last semester's vote demonstrated that the student body thinks a fee should be the funding choice of last resort and that if there is going to be a fee, we want to know that it buys what we want. President Gilbert Davidson's own task force on the Student Union concluded that students need to be included in the process for it to work.

Last year's referendum should have taught ASUA and the administration a lesson about how important consistent student involvement is to a successful project. We hope that Taylor and the new Senate learned that lesson and will live down the failings of ASUA during last year's debacle.

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