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Program seeks to work with administration to expand renovations

By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 23, 2012

In addition to the University’s ongoing efforts to renovate its residence hall, one student group has big plans for further modernization of student facilities on campus.

Building a Better Michigan, a student advisory group in its second year of operation, is working to fund renovations and upgrades for University buildings most frequented by students. E. Royster Harper, the University's vice president for student affairs, said she is working actively with the student group to raise awareness about the campaign.

“We really just have to renovate the facilities,” Harper said. “We just want to make sure we get it right.”

The group would like to see renovations occur in three phases, beginning with the Central Campus Recreational Building, the Michigan Union and the North Campus Recreational Building. In the second phase, the group envisions changes to the Intramural Sports Building and the Michigan League. Finally, the third phase involves replacing Pierpont Commons with a union and recreational sports facility, according to LSA senior Caroline Canning, the president of LSA Student Government and the co-chair of Building a Better Michigan.

Each phase will require an individual vote and approval by the University’s Board of Regents. According to Canning, the group would like to receive the board’s approval by the end of the year for a student fee that will help fund phase one.

Harper said improvements to the athletic compounds and the unions are necessary, because each facility attracts different, but equally large, groups of students.

“Some students participate in recreational sports and some students are really active in the unions,” she said. “We’re wanting to make sure that the facilities are good, the fields are good.”

Though it will be challenging to renovate all three of the athletic compounds and all three of the unions, Harper said she believes the University is capable of the task.

“We’re really trying to think creatively,” she said.

Canning said Building a Better Michigan’s efforts to add a small fee to students’ tuition, as a supplement to using University funding to pay for the renovations, is critical to implementing the program. She added that the club received overwhelming support in favor of the student fee when it surveyed 5,000 students and faculty last year, and if passed among the regents, the fee would be implemented in the next academic year.

Canning added that the club has observed the amenities available at other schools and is hoping to establish some of the more popular services at the University.

“At other schools they have maybe a juice bar or a healthy eatery in their gyms for after workouts,” she said. “There could also be more trainers and classes available.”

The group is holding a town hall meeting on Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Michigan League for student’s to voice their opinions, which Canning said she hopes students will take advantage of in order to make suggestions.

“We get a ton of e-mails about renovations and why buildings around campus could be more functional,” she said. “But we really need (student) support to make that happen.”


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