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Likins: No fee until new Union complete

By Michael Lafleur
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 25, 1998
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UA President Peter Likins

A plan to solicit student money to help finance Memorial Student Union renovations has been put on hold until May 2001, UA President Peter Likins said yesterday.

University of Arizona officials have decided to wait until after renovation of the 46-year-old building is completed before asking students to vote on funding a portion of the proposed $60 million project.

Likins said in an e-mail interview that he will advise Student Union planners to propose a fee paid only by students who will benefit from the newly renovated building, "so the fee would not take effect until the new Student Union is completed."

UA officials hit students up for a $40-per-semester fee in November, which would have raked in $2.4 million a year for five years to help finance the renovation. Student voters defeated the referendum with 72 percent of the vote, sending administrators to rethink funding options.

Likins' decision to delay a second referendum did not surprise Associated Students President Tara Taylor, who said she has counted on it since she took office in May.

"Students spoke out overwhelmingly against a fee last year," she said. "I don't think it's our (ASUA's) place to support something like that."

Taylor said students did not have enough information on the Student Union renovations and funding in November when the referendum hit campus.

"You don't go to buy a car without knowing the color, the make and the model," she said.

Nine months later, officials have yet to determine a source of funding for the Student Union renovations. Academic bonding, private donations like the UA's recent contract with Pepsi, UA Associated Students Bookstore and food service revenues are possible options. Taylor said the student fee will be used as a last resort to other funding sources.

For the time being, "ASUA won't take part in running a (new) referendum because we don't think it's necessary at this time," she said.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved seven policy waivers in April that allowed the UA to put the Student Union renovations on a "fast track" program. Under the new guidelines, the design and construction of the renovated Student Union will be the responsibility of one contractor instead of the culmination of several bidding phases.

The Student Union's Selection Committee took the first steps toward choosing a contractor last week, when the bidding process formally began. The Steering Committee will handle campus concerns after construction begins in July 1999.

Angela Rhotin, a UA Spanish and biology freshman, said she would support the fee because she thinks it is necessary.

"It kind of sucks because we (freshmen) will go through the pain of construction, and still pay a fee, but it's worth it," she said.

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