Students offer opinions on instructional facility

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

What can you do when you can't get students to give their input?

After holding two forums that were sparsely attended, especially by students, members of Campus and Facilities Planning decided to move their 18-diagram visual presentation of the $20 million Integrated Instructional Facility to where the students were in front of Gallagher Theatre on the University of Arizona Mall .

"We are trying to be very flexible with this, said Mark Novak, an organizer of the event. "The purpose is to get ideas and have people look, ask questions and give feedback. The point of the move was to be right out where they (the students) are."

Campus and Facilities Planning is considering three "preferred sites" for the new 84,000-square-foot "technologically advanced" building, which will serve as a "homebase" for about 4,500 freshmen each year after it opens in 1998. The diagrams presented feature the basic designs for buildings at each location, including an underground location on the Mall in front of the Main Library, a renovation and underground expansion project of Bear Down Gymnasium and an above-ground building on the visitor's parking lot next to the library.

The organizers of the event spent the entire day Thursday, extended from the scheduled 3-6 p.m. forum, in front of the theater. Novak said "a couple hundred" students, faculty and administrators attended the presentation, which made the forum "tremendously more successful" than the first two.

Responses from student passersby varied. Some glanced at the drawings and walked on, some spent time looking at the designs and some stayed to ask questions and give feedback.

To gather public sentiment,

participants were asked to leave comments on various notepads and to mark their favorite spot on the map with a red sticker.

"We got a pretty strong confirmation for a central location," Novak said.

Students had mixed reviews of the underground Mall location. The vast majority of the more than 100 red dots decorating the campus map were clustered on the Mall, with a few lonely dots indicating locations such as McKale Center, the Administration building and Arizona Stadium. But many comments on a large message board echoed the theme "Save our Mall" and "Anyplace but the Mall."

One student who was leaving her input on the notepads said she felt setting a precedent allowing the university to destroy part of the Mall area would "allow the whole Mall to go."

Several students expressed the sentiment that the university did not need another building.

"Why spend so much money when we already have buildings that aren't finished? What is wrong with the buildings we already have?," asked Margie Brumagin, a history senior. "It just doesn't make sense to spend so much money and at the same time cut departments."

Student comments on the message board also asked "Why not spend the money to fix the Union? It's a higher priority" and "The university didn't ask if we wanted a new building."

But other students disagreed.

Stephanie Shea, an astronomy senior, asked "Does the university have the money? Is it really necessary?," but said she would support the building if it "freed up classrooms for other classes."

Federico Gordon, a medical technology junior, said he hopes the building will provide "more rooms for more sections" of classes.

Criteria for the location include being central, being near other campus academic and student resources and being able to handle high volumes of student traffic.

Novak said all the comments from students and faculty will be read and discussed before Campus and Facilities Planning makes a recommendation to the Subcommittee on Campus Planning and Development. The committee will then make a recommendation to President Manuel T. Pacheco.

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