By Kayla Perry
The referendum option for a new $10 million SGA student center was passed unanimously by the SGA board on January 29.
During SGA elections, a ballot will also be cast for students to either vote for or against the referendum.
If the referendum passes with SGA students during the elections, the new $10 million student center will be funded using a thirty-year tiered system – the first year of construction SGA would charge a $40 student fee, the second year an $80 fee, and every year after that, for 28 years, a $114 fee.
Andy Rollins, SGA President, said that upper-year students, who won’t be around to see the final student center, will only pay the “lower fee at the starting two years.”
Rollins, who is serving his second-consecutive presidency, said he has been working on developing a plan for a new student center for the past two years.
“One thing that we realized, because the university is growing and planning out where their space is going to go, if it is the idea of the student body that they want to have a student center, now is the time for us to go to referendum and plan where our building is going to be before we are pushed to the outskirts of the university and it doesn’t appeal to students because they can’t access it,” said Rollins.
If passed, the new 20,000 square foot center will be its own building, featuring new study space, lounge area, and possibly a new games room, although Rollins said all plans of what will be inside the building are theoretical until the referendum is voted on.
Although locations for the building are still up in the air, the executive is mainly focusing on one spot – if you’ve seen the new plans for campus modernization it falls between the road and the ISLC, which Rollins said is close to the bus route and “in the heart of campus.”
Rollins said the new center will be “most attractive” for the commercial outlet space in the building – space that can be filled with any food provider students choose. Given that the student center will be the SGA’s own building, it will be autonomous from any Laurentian University contracts with food providers such as Aramark.
“It causes a more competitive nature on campus which helps to make food prices lower, which is one big positive thing,” said Rollins. “Another thing is that we’ve been contacted by places like campus dentist and pharmacies – getting those things on campus (and in the center) will make it a lot easier for students, not having to travel or bus, if they can actually get all that stuff done on campus.”
The SGA has taken a “public positive stance” on the referendum, the first time the SGA has done so while Rollins has been in office.
“One of the big complaints just around the university now is that we’re outgrowing the space that we’re in, and it’s very apparent that we are when a few years ago you could go into the games room and there was space to sit down or hang out with your friends,” said Rollins. “Now it’s tough to go in there with a group of friends and find space for everybody…We’re growing as a university, but the space that we’ve had hasn’t grown with us.”
In the time before the elections, which will happen March 20 and 21, the SGA will hold multiple “town-hall type meetings” around campus, where students can ask questions about the student center and give input.