New student center up for vote

A campus-wide referendum will be brought before all UM students on the Coral Gables campus next week to decide whether to fund a new Student Center. The outcome will decide whether to proceed with plans to begin construction on the project.

The new Student Center is estimated to cost between $83 million and $88 million and would be completed in two phases of construction. If passed, the referendum would allow the project to raise the student activity fee by $150 each semester once the building opens in 2009. This amount would account for 40 percent of the cost with the other 60 percent being funded by other sources at the university, such as the additional $250 million in the Momentum campaign.

Phase I of the construction would involve an entirely new building that would be erected where the Rathskeller now stands. This area will include space for student organizations that would span 10,000 sq. ft., a student media center, retail spaces, places for graduate student and law school spaces, and a new Rat.

Phase II would involve expanding and renovating the current UC. A 400-seat auditorium/movie theater, new swimming pool entrance, expanded retail spaces and a resurfaced patio with shaded seatingwould be included in this phase.

According to the Student Center Referendum Committee, throughout construction, all services would continue to be open in the UC and students would experience minimal disruption.

Phase I is projected to open in fall of 2009. Tuition would not increase until that semester, when the Student Center could be used by students.

This student referendum mirrors the procedure established by the Wellness Center referendum more than a decade ago, in which students voted to increase tuition to fund the construction of the Wellness Center.

Students have expressed a number of concerns about disruptions that could be caused by construction.

According to Richard Walker, assistant vice president for student affairs, the Rat’s liquor license could be moved during the construction so UM would not become a dry campus. It would likely be moved to the Storm Surge Caf