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Campus leaders discuss student life improvements at forum

BY AMRUTHA SIVAKUMAR
Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 7, 2012

LSA Student Government came one step closer on Thursday evening in their quest to work with administrators to establish policies that could improve student life for more than 17,000 LSA undergraduates.

The event, titled “Linking In: Student Facilities,” featured several leaders of student organizations, as well as members of the University administration who discussed the needs, feasibilities and logistics of improving student unions and recreation facilities.

LSA-SG reached out to a variety of communities on campus in order to establish diversity in decision-making. Last year, LSA-SG hosted two "Linking In" events focused on academics, and this year the organization decided to tackle issues that are more socially centered, according to LSA senior Caroline Canning, the LSA-SG president.

“When you think about LSA Student Government, it’s not just the academics side but it’s about improving student life for all LSA students in all capacities,” Canning said. “When you look at the usage of all these buildings, LSA students take up a lot of it.”

Using questions and concerns put forth by the attendees of the event and the general student body submitted previously to LSA-SG, the forum served as a means through which students could be made aware of the current efforts to renovate campus facilities.

Also in attendance at the event was E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs; Loren Rullman, the University’s associate vice president for student affairs; Bill Canning, the director of recreational sports; and John Taylor, the director of University Unions.

Bill Canning emphasized the need for renovation of University recreational sporting facilities, noting that the CCRB is the most used recreational building the University, with 3,500 to 4,000 people entering its compound every day during the academic year.

In comparison, Canning said the Intramural Sports Building has about 2,000 to 3,500 people using its facilities daily and the NCRB sees about 2,000 to 2,500. He added that from 7 p.m. to midnight, 85 percent of Rec Sports users are students, emphasizing the importance of renovating the facilities to improve campus life.

The CCRB was originally built in the 1970s, when buildings nationwide were constructed with the goal of minimizing electricity consumption, according to Canning. Canning said any renovations to the recreation buildings would aim to “open it up,” allowing for more light and ventilation in the facility, as well as adding air conditioning.

Rullman ensured students that any renovation to the buildings would take into account the needs of a variety of people who would be using University facilities.

“Our value system, whether it is student organizations or transgender facilities, is important,” Rullman said. “The best design processes will include the expression of this value system”

Following up on the concerns of several members of the student body, Harper explained that the University administration would do its best to ensure that tuition would not be immoderately hiked in order to cover costs.

Harper admitted that it would be difficult to complete renovation projects without increasing tuition. However, she affirmed that University administration was “working hard to identify some donors that make this kind of contribution”

Harper further expressed concern about the economic and social implications of undergoing massive renovations, saying that it was necessary to look at “the optics of it, and how it feels in a struggling economy and a struggling state."

Since several University buildings, such as the Michigan Union and the IM building, are historic landmarks, some students expressed concern that renovating would mean altering the historic aesthetics of these buildings.

"The idea would be to ensure that the history of the buildings be enhanced, not destroyed,” Harper said. "We want keep the buildings the same in terms of way they look, but make them modern in the way in which they are used."

To ensure that any endeavor to renovate facilities is done in a way that best addresses the needs of the student body, guest speakers encouraged all members of the student body to speak up.

“We absolutely need your voice to make sure that this is important to you and this is what we need,” Royster said, addressing the entire student body. “It is up to you to let us know where to place your money.”