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Dec 10, 2018
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ASI asks: new parking garage or new student union?

Associated Students, Inc. is conducting a survey to find out what new facilities students would like to see on campus.

ASI President Abigail Hudson said there will be two surveys sent to students.

The first gives students a choice between a new University Student Union building or a new parking structure.

Hudson said the goal is to get an idea of the students’ priorities and to gauge how much they would be willing to pay for either structure.

The survey also asks for students’ input on other changes that could be made at Fresno State.

One question asks students whether or not they want to change the name of the Free Speech Area on campus.

“We want to know if the students want the name changed,” Hudson said. “Then if they want to change the name, we have a couple of options for what they can choose or they can write their own.”

The second survey focuses more specifically on parking issues.

Hudson said the survey asks how far students live from campus, how long it takes them to come to campus, how they get to campus, where they usually park, where they would like a parking structure to be built and how much they would pay for a parking pass.

Hudson said students would be willing to pay more if they had the ability to find a parking spot in reasonable time, closer to their classrooms.

“The students I’ve talked to would like a parking structure,” she said. “We have the lowest parking fee in the entire [California State University] system by a long shot. Everyone else pays about double what we pay, and they have a little bit better parking, but they pay a lot more.”

Fresno State officials have said a new parking garage could cost about $30 million.

ASI will also hold an open forum in October to find out how much students are willing to pay for a possible new parking structure.

In January, a new shuttle service is expected to be available for Fresno State students.

Hudson said the shuttle service would cover the areas around campus including fraternity row, Bulldog Village, Palazzo at Campus Pointe and the University Village.

Juan Guzman, USU board of directors chairman, says parking is not the key issue at Fresno State.

Guzman said there is a greater need for a new USU building because the current building doesn’t have enough space.

“There’s not enough conference rooms. The food court is too small. The lounge area is not big enough. There’s not enough space for the computer rooms. There’s not enough printers. There’s just not enough to provide for the students,” Guzman said.

He adds that the current USU building was built in 1968, when the campus had a population of 10,000 students.

“It’s 2015 now, and we’re closer to 24,000 students,” he said. “You can just see the big difference. [The building] doesn’t fit the population we have.”

In the past couple of years, Guzman said students have come to him to address their concerns about the USU.

After hearing the students’ concerns, Guzman visited other CSU campuses and saw their student union buildings.

“Most of the schools have just gotten a new student union building in the past few years,” Guzman said. “That reflected what the students wanted, and it reflected enough space to accommodate the population of the campus.”

This year, the USU board of directors arranged for consultants to conduct a feasibility study for three days at Fresno State.

“They’re gonna be talking to students, faculty, staff and they’re trying to learn the view that students have toward the [USU] as it is right now,” Guzman said. “Do you need more conference space? Do you need more lounge area? Do you need a computer room? Do you need a bigger student involvement office? We’re trying to learn that from students. What’s their interest in relation to this building?”

Guzman says the focus should not be on making students choose between a parking structure and a student union.

He believes the goal should be to inform students first so they make educated decisions.

“As a campus, we don’t have to pick one or the other. I don’t think we’re at that point yet. I think we’re at that point where we have to inform students about the benefits, how much it’s gonna cost,” Guzman said. “We can’t just go around campus and say ‘which one do you prefer?’ Then you’re playing on the ignorance of the students.”

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