UH campus center fee could nearly triple
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By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
By Christie Wilson
The campus center operations fee paid by students at the University of Hawaiçi-Mänoa could nearly triple in the next five years to help pay for construction of a fitness center, more study lounges and other improvements to the student union.
Student leaders said the improvements are overdue and much-needed to encourage students to linger on campus and create more of a "college atmosphere."
Many students head for Kahala Mall or bookstores to study at night because they can't buy food or drinks or find adequate Internet hookups at the 32-year-old Campus Center, said Grant Teichman, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i.
Students now pay a fee of $45 per semester, or $90 per year.
According to a report by the student-run Campus Center Board, students at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas now pay $173 per semester in student union and recreation fees, while the fee at Colorado State University is approximately $169 per semester.
The proposed renovations would improve the building's energy-efficiency, increase lounge and study areas, fix up the ballroom, meeting spaces, bathrooms and kitchen, and create more retail space.
New construction adding 64,000 square feet to the Campus Center would include a fitness center with locker rooms and showers, indoor playing courts, a yoga and aerobics studio, office space for student organizations and a late-night coffee shop.
The expanded center would "change the face of the university in the way services are provided to students," said Sean Burke, president of the Campus Center Board. Manoa's 20,300 students could study on campus instead of having to go to shopping malls and could work out at the fitness center instead of paying for gym memberships, he said.
"Campus life wouldn't be limited to going to class and back to your room or home," Burke said.
Summer Chun of the Campus Center Board said there was no opposition at public hearings on the fee increase, and that a number of student groups support it. In addition, more than 2,840 students signed a petition in favor of the increase, she said.
Jim Tiles, speaking on behalf of the UH Faculty Senate, asked the regents to postpone a decision on the fee increase until their February meeting. Although aware of plans to expand the Campus Center, Tiles said the senate was "blindsided" by the fee increase proposal and feels it should be considered within the context of rising tuition and housing charges and other fees burdening students.
He said the Faculty Senate also fears the Campus Center fee increase would prejudice the regents against a future request to charge students a technology fee for critically needed improvements to UH computer resources.
Teichman opposed the delay, saying the Legislature would already be in session by February, and students want to put their funding request before lawmakers with a fee increase in place to show their commitment to the project.
The last fee adjustment was in June 2002.
In approving the fee increase, the regents also voted to change the name of the fee to the "campus center operations and recreation fee."
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