Students vote yes

James Heggen

Iowa State’s Recreation Services Department is one step closer to beginning a $52.8 million renovation on the ISU campus.

Of the estimated 26,000 students at Iowa State, 6,466 voted on the referendum as it passed with 52.1 percent of the vote. The vote was carried by a margin of 272 votes, about 1 percent of the student population.

The results were announced Thursday morning in the Cardinal Room of the Memorial Union.

Government of the Student Body President Brian Phillips, senior in political science, fielded questions at the press conference. Other members of GSB were present as well.

“None of the things in the vote are final in terms of the designing – the architect, things like that.” said Ryan Myers, GSB finance director and graduate student in accounting, stressing that students would play in important role in such decisions.

However, Phillips said these further decisions would not effect the increase in student fees.

“That is the fee which the student body has agreed to – I don’t anticipate that to change,” he said.

Phillips said things won’t be finalized until the project is approved by the Board of Regents.

“Then Rec Services will go through the process of hiring an architect, coming up with a finalized plan, and that process will likely involve student input as far as things they would like to see,” he said.

Mike Harvey, director of Recreation Services, said that once the project and fee are approved by the Board of Regents, Rec Services will hire an architect for the project.

Phillips talked about what kinds of comments students left on the optional section of the electronic ballot. One student was against the renovation because the fee would be implemented before the project’s construction would begin. Phillips said this is not true.

Harvey said the “core” proposals will stay the same, but logistical decisions, such as locations and sizes, may change.

Harvey said those who graduate in spring 2009 will not face a fee increase. The fee will be implemented in summer 2009 at $10, when the air conditioning in Lied Recreation Center will be available. It will then increase to $20 in the fall.

He said the full fee increase of $107 will not be implemented until 2011, which is when the renovation is projected to be completed.

Phillips said some feedback from students mentioned parts of the project they either agreed or disagreed with. He said the comments will eventually be released after they are analyzed.

“The comments are going to be studied so that we can better address student needs and student concerns on the issue, and all of that will be considered as the project moves forward,” Phillips said.

Phillips said the turnout for the vote is higher than normal for student elections, referendums and “things of that nature.”

“Students had multiple opportunities to vote,” he said.

Andrew Boekelman, GSB senator and senior in sociology, said he heard most of the voters were freshmen, which he said was “a good sign.” However, he said he was not as impressed with the size of the turnout.

“It’s kind of a small representation of the entire student body,” he said.

Boekelman said it was hard to say why only 6,466 voted.

“I don’t know if this is the biggest concern for students,” he said.

Harvey, who attended the press conference, but did not take the podium, said he was pleased with the turnout for the vote.

“[I’m] just very pleased with the student involvement in the project,” he said.

Harvey said he looked forward to studying the comments and would provide “education and clarification” where needed. He also said student input would be taken as the project progressed.

Boekelman said that, because the vote was so close, he hoped they may consider more options for the plan.

Phillips said the next step is to give the information to the Special Student Fee and Tuition Committee. The committee will review it and make its recommendation. ISU President Gregory Geoffroy will then make his recommendation to the Board of Regents sometime this spring.

Phillips also said some student groups will still be giving input.

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate will vote on a resolution for the renovations on Monday, Mar. 3.