The long-awaited $68.5 million UCI Student Center expansion project is scheduled to begin construction after the June 2004 commencement ceremony, according to Marc Tuchman, director of the Student Center.
‘All necessary approvals have been received from the [UC] Regents. We are currently ‘out to bid,” Tuchman said.
Leslie Millerd Rogers, director of student affairs communications, said being ‘out to bid’ means they are ‘in the phase that they’re selecting contractors.’
‘Once the bidding is completed in February or March, we will have more details on the location of offices, lounge space and meeting rooms that will be available during construction,’ Millerd Rogers said. ‘Decisions will be based on traffic flow, noise, best location for services coupled with space needs of departments.’
According to Millerd Rogers, in opposition to popular student belief, the parking structure and most eateries will be open for the duration of this year.
‘There [are] no plans to close the parking structure. The center will be open throughout construction and still be providing some meeting space, food service and services to students,’ Millerd Rogers said.
She also confirmed that the UCI Bookstore will remain open for the duration of the Student Center expansion project.
While the center will not be closed, however, Millerd Rogers confirmed that certain meeting room space will be lost.
‘Some meeting rooms go on and offline over periods of time, over the two-plus years of construction,’ Millerd Rogers said.
According to Millerd Rogers, she has not been informed of any major student complaints about the cost or the length of this project.
‘The students we have talked with, [even] at the recent UCI Student Leadership Retreat, have a strong awareness of the project,’ Millerd Rogers said. ‘As we approach the start of the project, they express concern over lounge and study space needs, dining areas and large meeting rooms during construction. We have received very good ideas and advice on how to proceed in the best interest of students, including commuter student needs.’
While most of the focus on the expansion project has been on the Student Center, Millerd Rogers also wanted to point out that the Cross-Cultural Center is going to be changed as well.
‘Construction at the Cross will happen during the second half of this project. The Cross-Cultural Center grows to two stories and [will] have a new 135-seat multi-purpose room, two new student organization offices, additional study space [and] a new conference room,’ Millerd Rogers said.
According to the Student Center’s Web site, the center’s size will increase by 78 percent. Some of the changes include an additional food court and a small performance stage area.
Students voted to expand both the Student Center and Cross-Cultural Center in 2001, with 76 percent of the votes supporting the expansion. The expansion project is funded by an $89 increase in student fees that will begin when the building opens in fall 2006.
Some students, especially those who were not here to vote on the project, still have some concerns over the expansion cost.
Mark Anthony Reyes, a third-year studio art major, questions the $89 increase especially since this increase will be coupled with recent hikes in student tuition.
‘It’s great that they want to expand the Student Center,’ Reyes said. ‘I just don’t see the justification for the extra cost
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