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By Jennifer M. Fitzenberger
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 14, 1997

No choice: Students will help fund Union with fee or without, Likins says

UA students will be handing over more money for a renovated Student Union whether or not they vote for a $40 per semester student fee at polls next week, UA President Peter Likins said yesterday.

"Either we have a fee or we have no Union," he said of the Nov. 18-19 scheduled student vote on whether to pitch in $40 a semester to help fund Memorial Student Union renovations.

"That's not to say if this goes badly I'll give up," Likins added. "I won't."

If students vote down the fee, Likins said he will go back to "square one" by hiring an architect and pressuring university benefactors and University of Arizona alumni for contributions.

After that, he said he will go back to the students.

Likins said some sort of student fee must be approved at some point to fix up the Student Union, which does not meet current fire codes.

"It's not illegal, but it's clearly inappropriate for students to be in a building so far from state requirements," he said.

Likins said although a "no" vote would not scrap the project, if the students vote it down, he will not bring it to the Arizona Board of Regents for a second approval.

"If the students say no, I can't go to the regents and ask for something the students rejected," he said and Regents President Rudy Campbell agreed.

"If the students vote no, I would think we would have a hard time trying to sell this (renovation) to the Legislature," Campbell said, adding that it is the students' responsibility to help finance a building all students use.

He added a "no" vote would leave him with many doubts about the project.

"If they vote against the fee, then it changes the flavor of it to me," Campbell said.

Before any renovations are given approval, the Board of Regents must give it conceptual and final approval - decisions contingent upon student support.

Student Regent John Platt said from his "one-hour whirlwind" Student Union tour last month, something should be done to fix it.

"It is just a confusing maze, the way it was built in pieces," he said. "It doesn't give the impression it needs to give."

Platt said, however, he does not support a student fee because the UA has not made a strong enough case for one.

"If it was on my campus (Arizona State University), I would vote against it," he said. "I wouldn't vote for it here. I'd be concerned about the effects of the fee after a couple of years."

Regent John Munger said if students do not support the fee, he will take that as meaning they do not need a renovated Student Union.

"I will think the Union is not so bad as to motivate anyone to participate," he said.

Likins said he wishes next week's referendum would be pushed to April in order to thoroughly inform the students.

"It's very hard to educate so many students on a campus as big as this one," he said, adding that with more time he would better know the final cost and how much money alumni will contribute.

Platt advocated a similar plan, saying students do not know enough to make an educated decision about the fee now.

More time would also allow the UA to explore other options, he added.

"There are lots of other sources," he said. "I think the UA is looking into that now. We've got to give them time to develop them."

By raising education costs with a fee, all students would pay $80 more per year to attend the UA than ASU or Northern Arizona University, creating differential tuition - a concept the Regents have fought against for years.

Platt said ASU and NAU would be pressured to raise their prices to match the UA.

"It's an inevitable result," he said.

Likins said he does not understand why differential tuition is a problem because there are already differences like cost of living.

"But $80 a year?" he asked. "Who are we kidding here? Who is going to make a decision (about which school to go to) based on $80 a year?"

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