ASC for the students, paid by the students
Published: Friday, December 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 11:12
The nautical chandeliers are lit in the Shade Family Room, the soda fountains at the 24-hour Pulley Diner are ready for use and construction workers are putting the final touches on the interactive glass seal, located at the heart of the Armstrong Student Center. The intricate threads of ASC are seemingly coming together to reveal a masterpiece, yet there is still a key part missing.
Well, $1.7 million in yearly fees, to be exact.
A $110 ASC fee will appear on upcoming spring bursar bills for all undergraduate students. This goes toward the $1.7 million and will remain an annual fee for upcoming semesters, like fees for the REC center and Goggin Ice Center.
Approved in Sept. 2010 by the Miami University Board of Trustees and Associated Student Government (ASG), the fee will cover the bonds that constructed the center and future operating costs.
“There was a financing plan put into place that was a mixture of each students fee plus funds to be raised to fund the center,” said Associate Vice President for Budgeting and Analysis David Ellis. “The fee covers about 43 percent of phase one construction, and the remainder is covered by donations.”
ASG has been rallying since the 90s to convince the administration to build a new student center, but understood that, along with fundraising and donations, students would also have to chip in.
“I understood that in fact, with our tremendous co curricular experience, not having a student center was a pretty big hole,” said President David Hodge. “I was convinced by ASG presidents and the student body that was this a critical thing to do. This wasn’t our idea—this was students hammering the administration.”
In 2007, ASG hired the program management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey Inc. to conduct a campus-wide survey. Results indicated students desired increased study space, office space for student organizations, an updated lounge and new dining options.
The firm conducted another survey in 2009 to assess and analyze students’ ability to pay for the new student center.
According to the results of the survey, 75 percent of 1,816 students surveyed were in favor of a $100 fee.
“Our fees are not only paying for the construction of the building but also paying for continuing operations,” said ASG President of the Student Senate and Chair of ASC Board Nick Miller. “Part of the staff and students working there and extra student activities in the center will also be taken care off with these fees.”
When the economic crisis swept the nation in 2008, it also affected the university. As the university faced layoffs and budget cuts, the Armstrong Center became prohibitively expensive. New initiatives such as utilizing older buildings like Gaskill and Rowan Hall saved millions of dollars.
“But we still couldn’t get there without the student fee,” says Hodge. “Since the project was already the idea of students, it is reasonable.”
However, according to the second survey found in the legislation for ASG’s Student Financial Analysis in 2009, the survey showed “an important minority of students exist that do not support the building of a student center” for reasons such as not worth the price or fee, satisfaction with the Shriver Center and would not use the student center. However, the survey failed to mention the actual percentage of students who did not support a new student center.
Miami University senior Emily Johnson fell within that percentage of students.
“Unfortuantly, not every student has the means to pay this unexpected fee. I could be using my money for more important things,” she said in a tweet, responding to a question from The Miami Student Twitter account.
There is also a strong possibility for the fee to decrease throughout the years. Just as the REC fee and Goggin Center have decreased since they were built, this will hold true for ASC.
“It could decrease just as the REC has over time,” Miller said. “There will be further analysis on that number moving forward and assessing student’s desires of services and what they are willing to pay.”
As spring semester bursar bills began rolling out as early as Dec. 3, students are reminded of what their fee is covering.
“I think it is fair, you pay for the semesters that you are here and you if you don’t choose to use it than that is on you, but it was intended for student use,” senior Aimee Madrigrano said.
The money to pay the bonds and facility costs had to come from somewhere though, and that somewhere is on student bursar bills.
“A lot of the students are excited for it, but they have to expect the money to come from somewhere,” Miller said. “We tried to get as much as we could through fundraising but the rest students have to pay for.”