University President Mary Sue Coleman and E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, discussed potential renovations to recreational facilities and improving transportation on campus at a fireside chat yesterday at the Michigan Union.

Complete with a real crackling fire, couches and stuffed armchairs, Coleman and Harper convened with a diverse group of students to foster discussion on a variety of concerns on campus. At the meeting, many attendees asked questions regarding construction and renovation projects at the University, specifically pertaining to the state of campus recreation and exercise facilities.

LSA senior Adam Davis, who has previously served as a supervisor at both the Intramural Sports Building and the North Campus Recreational Building, told Coleman and Harper that he believes the buildings are in poor condition compared to recreational facilities at peer universities.

Davis asked what the administration plans to do to in the future to modernize the buildings, and Coleman acknowledged that University officials recognize that the buildings are in “terrible” shape.

Harper and Coleman spoke candidly about the University’s plans to update both the IM Building and the Central Campus Recreation Building. The University has already hired consultants and is working with a student advisory panel to determine what the best course of action should be, Harper said.

Coleman added that a survey sent to students last week was intended to determine how often students use the buildings, and if students would be willing to pay an additional fee to underwrite the renovation and maintenance of the buildings.

“What most institutions do is that they have a mandatory student activities fee to fund recreation facilities,” Coleman said. “We wanted to test to see if that was acceptable to students.”

Other construction projects Coleman and Harper addressed include plans for a new School of Nursing building, renovated laboratories on Central Campus and expanded laboratory facilities on North Campus.

Like recent fireside chats, Harper and Coleman again addressed transportation difficulties for students traveling between North and Central Campuses.

Kinesiology freshman Andrea Acosta inquired about how the University was addressing transportation between the two campuses, particularly during peak hours. Coleman highlighted the fact that Harper has been riding the buses to better understand the situation facing students living on North Campus.

“I feel your pain,” Harper said, in regards to experiencing bus transportation.

Harper said she is continuing to work with the University’s Parking and Transportation Services to improve transportation for students, adding she is frustrated by the failure of PTS to consider the time students spend waiting and walking to the bus when measuring performance.

“They are really clocking ‘get on the bus, get off the bus,’ but that’s not the lived experience,” Harper said. “It’s leave my house, wait, get on the bus, get off the bus (and) walk. Transportation is (only) clocking when the bus is supposed to be there, so we keep having intense conversations.”

According to Coleman, the University is currently in the process of acquiring new buses to alleviate congestion. Harper said adding buses would complement existing transportation resources, which will provide better operating hours both on weekdays and weekends.

“Particularly, students on North Campus say they still live on the weekends, so they’d like to be able to travel,” Harper said.

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