SGA to gauge student opinion on DUC renovations

Student Government Association members hope to soon raise awareness of potential renovations to Downing University Center. The renovations would cost about $49 million, some of which would come from a $70 per semester student fee.

Mike Stunson

Now that Student Government Association members have seen ways Downing University Center can be improved, they are working on a plan of action — which includes gathering student input — for the coming weeks.

Chief of Staff Charlie Harris will be heading the student awareness side of the project. He said SGA members agreed to set up booths in DUC and other locations on campus to start getting the word out about possible renovations.

“We will be looking for student input, but also to gain opinions from them,” Harris said. “We can’t go anywhere without input.”

Charley Pride, director of Student Activities and Organizations, said going to other student centers helped SGA realize what it wants, and now members can share that information with the rest of campus.

“We can show students what it can be and also ask them what they want,” Pride said. “Is it the study area? Is it more of a place to hang out? Is it better meeting rooms?”

Executive Vice President Kendrick Bryan said during Tuesday’s SGA meeting that more input will help senators figure out how to vote on the approval of the project. He said SGA has two possible courses of action: the project can be put up for an SGA vote among senators, or the vote can go to referendum, where the student body decides if the project should continue.

The current proposal states there will be a $70 fee every semester for undergraduate students over the course of the next 20 years. Students will be counted on to pay for nearly 60 percent of the proposed budget for the project, which is more than $49 million.

Jeff Stivers, head architect for the project, told SGA on Tuesday that he’s never seen a situation where students were given this much input on a building plan.

“You are in such a unique position to have such a huge, huge impact on a significant project,” Stivers said.

Harris said SGA’s next step is to gauge how students feel about the renovation in the coming weeks.

“There is so much more that can be provided to DUC,” Harris said. “Now that we know that, we need to show the rest of the students.”