New UC to cause fee increase
The University will be increasing the University Center fee from $85 to $135 per semester in the fall of 2012 in order to pay for planned renovations to the University Center under the University Center Transformation Project.
The renovations are expected to cost about $80 million, $77.5 million of which will come from student fees over the next 25 years, said Cameron McHugh, the Student Government Association’s administration and finance committee chair.
Improvements include extra space for retail and student organizations, a complete refit of the heating and ventilation systems, and a 24 hour student lounge, McHugh said.
“If we have a good UC, it brings attention to the school. Students feel more comfortable; they’re more likely to hang out there with their friends and participate in campus activities,” McHugh said. There will also be a few changes to the University Center dining.
“They’re going to get rid of Chili’s, because nobody goes there; it’s a waste of money anyway,” said McHugh. “So they’re going to put something in there that actually generates revenue.”
Rather than demolishing the current University Center and building a new one, the renovations will be done in phases, so the University Center is never completely closed to students.
“It’s going to take slightly longer to do it this way, but we’ll have a UC (throughout the construction),” McHugh said.
The majority of students are in favor of a gradual increase in fees in exchange for better UC facilities, according to a survey taken in November 2008.
“A lot of people have said that they would prefer a new UC; (the old one) is outdated, they believe. A lot of people have seen other campuses in Texas and what their university centers are like. So our people are in favor of getting a new student center, because it’s a center for student involvement on campus,” McHugh said.
The bill to increase fees has been presented in previous years, but was passed last summer in order to “possibly lock in on a better deal” with relatively low interest rates, said McHugh.
This is the second time that the University Center fee will be increased in two years.
The fee was given a $50 boost from $35 to $85 in 2010, but there aren’t any plans yet to increase the fee again, said McHugh.
“I think the $50 increase should cover (all of the improvements),” McHugh said.
Construction is expected to begin in 2012 and be completed in 2015.