By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
What do students think about taking classes underground?
Members of campus and facilities planning want to know what students think about the three proposed sites for the $20 million "technologically advanced" Integrated Instruction Facility, which will serve as home base for 4,500 freshman each year Ä two of which involve building underground.
Preferred underground sites include underneath the University of Arizona Mall in front of the Main Library and a project which would involve renovating Bear Down Gym and expanding underneath the Mall in front of the gym. A preferred above-ground site, the visitor's parking lot next to the library, is also being considered.
Tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Lounge on the second floor of the Student Union, students, faculty, staff and alumni can stop by and voice their opinions about the proposed sites.
"It will not be a presentation; we want to provide an opportunity for students to interact with us in any way they feel comfortable with and give their input," said Mark Novak of campus and facilities planning. Michael Gottfredson, vice provost of undergraduate education, and members of facilities design and construction will also be available to answer questions.
Eighteen exhibits, including architectural models for each site and a campus map showing all the sites initially considered, will be on display, Novak said. Stickers will be handed out for people to stick on a large campus map on their favorite site, he said.
The campus and facilities planning members have also met with smaller focus groups of students and alumni, and plan to meet with faculty members to get "more focused views." But, Novak said input from as many students as possible will be very helpful in the process.
"Students have gone through recent classroom experiences and can give a lot of feedback about the positive aspects we should consider in the building," he said.
But he said students haven't been willing to give their input.
"It is difficult to get a lot of students involved because the students who are here now aren't necessarily the one's who will be able to enjoy the results," Novak said.
Few people attended the first forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, and Novak said he hopes the last two forums will be more popular. "We tried to vary the times of the forums to meet the needs of many people, and we are holding the forums in a more open location to draw in people walking through the union," he said.
A site will be chosen by next month after campus and facilities planning reports to the subcommittee on campus planning and development, which will make a recommendation to President Manuel T. Pacheco.
Construction on the building will not be started "until funding is secured," Novak and Gottfredson said.
"We are waiting for the Legislature to see if they agree this is a critical building," Gottfredson said. "A new instructional facility for the state of Arizona is every bit as important as a new correctional facility for the state."
Earlier this semester, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and Gov. Fife Symington submitted budgets that did not include money to build the new facility. The final budget will result from a compromise between the two budgets. If money for the building is not included in this budget, the university will sell bonds to construct the building.
The facility, which is scheduled to be completed in November 1998, should be finished ahead of schedule and in time to start classes that August, Gottfredson said.
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