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May 16, 2005

Students voting whether to raise fees for events center, other projects

By Louise Donahue

Three major campus building projects, including a new multipurpose events center that could seat up to 4,000 people, are on the ballot as students vote this week on whether to increase their fees.

The events center—the most expensive project on the ballot--would require a fee increase of $175 per quarter. Concerts, graduations, athletic competitions, theater performances, and large speeches and rallies are among events that could be held in the new space, which would be built on the south side of the Wellness Center.

If approved, the events center--with an estimated price tag of $61 million--would be the largest project ever authorized by students at UCSC. It would fill a major gap in campus student life facilities, said Gail Heit, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs. "There is no indoor venue where a substantial number of students can come together," she said. “I was amazed—most community colleges and literally all the CSU campuses have student life and recreation facilities that exceed what we have at UCSC. As for a comparision with our sister UC campuses--well, even if all of these referenda passed--we would still be light-years behind.”

Students would not begin paying additional fees for projects until the construction is completed.

Other referenda on the spring ballot include:

• A multiuse outdoor/soccer/field sports venue ($45 per quarter), with a lighted field and seating and amenities for up to 2,000 spectators. It would be primarily for soccer, field sports, and other special events.

• Renovations and expansion of the Student Health Center ($27 per quarter) to modernize the dated and inefficient clinical space to accommodate the increase in student population since the center was built in 1969.

• Additional funding for UCSC'S NCAA Division III teams, intercollegiate clubs, and intramural sports and events ($24 per quarter).

Dan Wood, executive director of student activities, is working with a large student committee that formed to promote the events center, additional sports funding, and outdoor soccer venue.

“These three projects have something for every individual on campus,” he said.

If the fee measure for the Health Center is approved, the building layout would be changed to allow more patient privacy and overall efficiency, said director Les Elkind.

“The center needs to be updated in a serious way,” Elkind said, noting that the current Health Center layout is that of a hospital rather than a modern campus health center.

The facilities-related fee proposals have been in the works for several years. Consultants hired in 2001 conducted focus groups, surveys, and planning sessions to see what student life facilities were needed.

The consultants came up with several recommendations, including a student union and renovation of the Quarry Amphitheater, Heit said. Fee increases and budget cuts in the intervening years delayed moving the recommendations forward, but student interest revived some of the proposals in time for the 2005 elections.

“For each of the facilities fee measures, more than 10 percent of all currently enrolled students signed petitions to put the measures on the spring ballot," Heit said.

Student Union Assembly candidates and several smaller fee increases are also on the ballot, which will be conducted online from May 17 through May 23.

Detailed information on each measure is available on the campus elections web site at elections.ucsc.edu/elections05/ballot.html

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