SGA senate passes DUC resolution

Kaylee Egerer, Campus Improvements Chair, celebrates after Resolution 2-11-S, the legislation supporting a DUC renovation Project, was approved during Tuesday’s SGA meeting. The new bill calls for a maximum student fee of $70 a semester for students until the project is paid off.

Jonathan Lintner

On the fourth floor of the Downing University Center Tuesday night, students were knocking down pins at the bowling alley.

A floor below in the Student Government Association chamber, a different set of students knocked down the biggest obstacle in the way of a refreshed DUC.

Amid applause and cheers — and after less than five minutes of open debate — the SGA senate unanimously passed resolution 2-11-S supporting renovations to DUC.

Tuesday’s meeting marked the second reading of the resolution, which was originally introduced to SGA last semester and read for the first time Feb. 15.

“The work is definitely not done, but I’m relieved,” SGA President Colton Jessie said. “I’m glad that we took the time we did to do this. Every step we took was extremely important.”

Costs for the renovations have been capped at $49,128,545.

The resolution calls for a student fee of up to $70 a semester until outstanding debt for the project is paid off in about 20 years. WKU will also contribute $1.5 million each year.

Jessie said he understands both sides of the student fee issue, but insight from a student who was in favor of the renovations helped him gain a new perspective. The student compared the fee to buying an extra text book each semester.

“I don’t like student fees, even though we just passed one. There’s never a good time to talk about student fees,” he said. “But when I think about this building, I think about how many current students, prospective students and alumni use it.

“I see it as an investment. It’s an important building.”

Charley Pride, director of Student Activities and Organizations, said during Tuesday’s meeting that a renovated DUC most likely won’t have a bowling alley. But little else has already been determined outside of the 24-hour study space required by SGA, according to the resolution.

Pride said he hopes official plans for the project will be presented at the Board of Regents Student Affairs Committee meeting on April 1 before the April 22 Board of Regents meeting.

A committee of administrators and students will be formed soon to gather input and make decisions about the renovations themselves, Pride said.

“There’s a process behind how we’ll do everything,” he said. “That’s when we begin giving and taking. How much money does it cost? Does it fit in the budget?”

Ross Tarrant Architects and Mackey Mitchell Architects will design and complete the project.

Speaking in the windowless Student Government Association chamber in Downing University Center Room 305, Jeff Stivers, head architect for the renovations, said he could picture the renovated building having more natural light and open space.

“It’s about making sure it has a wow characteristic so that it will really pull people in,” he said. “But as an architect, what excites me is seeing a building that has people in it and use it.”

Stivers said any final plans are up to his client, SGA, whether that means more student input, open forums or promotional videos. The resolution calls for construction to begin as soon as possible “because interest rates are low, and because it will only get more expensive the longer this project is put off.”

Stivers said he’ll meet often with the committee between now and the end of the school year. He said he didn’t know when construction will begin.

“It’s too early to throw a dart at that board yet,” he said.

“This was the highest hurdle that was still on the board that we wanted to get past in order for the project to go forward, and now that’s behind us,” Stivers said. “There are some other approvals that still need to take place, but they all hinged on this one.”