Aug 09, 2020
Concept design for the new University Student Union college hopes to build. (Courtesy photo/University Communications)

New USU referendum makes it to spring ballot

UPDATE: A previous version of this story stated that the cost for a new USU would come from raising tuition. However, the cost would actually be in the form of an added student fee which is different from tuition.

Last week, the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) moved to place a new University Student Union referendum on the spring 2017 ballot.

This means that the student body will have an the opportunity to approve or reject the proposal for the new facility. The motion was passed after ASI had listened to several presentations throughout this semester. All the presenters had the same idea: this new USU is needed, and it would be a great benefit for the student body.

However, there has been a common concern among many students – how much would it raise the cost of college?

At one meeting, Deborah Adishian-Astone, Fresno State’s vice president for administration and associate vice president for auxiliary services, explained the financial process the facility would require.

A new USU would cost an estimated $72 million. Under the construction plan, that’s about $720 per square foot. Adishian-Astone said the price is high, but compared with other recently built USUs across the California State University system, it’s fairly low. The newly constructed Student Union at San Francisco State was $1,000 a square foot, she said.

In order to move forward, an implementation team has been created. The team consists of administration, faculty, staff and students. In the team, three subgroups have been created to study finance, marketing and fundraising.

Adishian-Astone explained that a 10 percent down payment would be needed at the time the administration goes to the board of trustees for approval of a financing plan. The total cost of the project, minus the down payment, would be left for the students to pay.

The fundraising group will be assisting in lowering that remaining price for students by having a goal of $10 million provided by donors.

Currently, the implementation team has said that the student fee increase would be between $175 and $200, but a final number will be determined before the election.

As well as the referendum including the set amount, it will also be written in a “neutral” format, ASI said. The referendum will present the pros and cons of the project so that the students’ decision is not coerced. Also, no student will be asked to pay for this facility until it is up and running.

This is not the first project students are paying for. After the opening of the Student Recreation Center in 2006, students had to start paying $49 per semester for the 28-year payment schedule for that facility.

Until the decision is made in the spring, the team has also scheduled a number of forums in which students can get more information and voice their opinions. The first one was last Thursday afternoon at the USU lounge where the “Bold New U” campaign had its kickoff. Many more forums will be planned for next semester, ASI said.

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