Students, faculty polled on Park Center, Union

By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Park Student Center might add commercial restaurants by the beginning of next semester, and a Student Union upkeep fee would have a chance of student approval, based on results of a recent survey.

A September survey canvassed 459 residence hall students and 284 faculty who work in buildings around the Park Student Center. Participants were asked what should be done with the Garden Court Restaurant in the center and whether or not students would be willing to adopt a mandatory fee to renovate the Student Union. The survey was a combined effort by the Dean of Students' Office, the Student Union and University of Arizona Student Research.

About 54 percent of responding students and 36 percent of faculty/staff said a traditional cafeteria should remain in the center while adding one or two commercial restaurants like Burger King or Taco Bell.

"The main purpose was to find what people in that area want," said Dean of Students Melissa Vito.

But Student Union Services must first receive an acceptable proposal before any changes will take place. A meeting will be held today to inform private businesses that Student Union Services is requesting proposals and the requirements for building.

If an acceptable proposal is found, Vito said she would want to get input from other universities that have more private restaurants and other businesses.

"We face a financial difficulty in the Union in being able to pull enough capital to make the changes on our own," Vito said. "If we're able to bring in a couple of branded food areas, then I think that's a plus."

The new restaurants would be in place and ready for use when school starts again in January 1995, Vito said.

Final proposals are due by Nov. 7, when the Dean of Students' Office and Student Union Services will meet to choose a proposal and discuss which best agrees with the long-term goals for Dining Services.

The survey also indicated students would not necessarily be opposed to the concept of a mandatory Student Union fee, which would be used to upgrade that building.

"This is kind of a nice test," said Mike Low, Student Union interim director. "If it's successful in providing for the needs of our community, we'll look at doing others."

The survey also revealed that most students living in residence halls are not adverse to the idea of instituting a mandatory Student Union fee. Similar to the $25 Student Recreation Center fee, the new fee would pay for all Student Union improvement projects.

About 11 percent of those surveyed said they would not support a fee. About 51 percent checked "maybe" pending more details about the fee amount and the projects, while another 28 percent said they would pay the fee with some regulation by student committees or with no regulation.

The study concluded more input would be needed from students who live off-campus. It would be required that students vote on the fee idea before it was instituted.

Low said the Park Center would absorb some of the students when the Student Union eventually undergoes renovations. He also said most of the survey's results came from residence hall students, who are prone to favor commercial restaurants because they're new to Tucson.

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