Whether for lunch at Panda Express or a club meeting in Emerald Bay A, the Student Center is a place of vital importance for all UCI students. It is a place where students can grab food, cram all night in the Courtyard Study Lounge and take the occasional nap in hidden-away corners between classes. It is the central hub of student life on campus. Unfortunately, future Anteaters may not be able to experience the same great quality here at the center that we have been able to enjoy in recent years.
The Student Center was built in four phases. Each phase was approved by students and attempted to anticipate the growth and needs of the campus. In fall 2017, a fee that students currently pay will expire. This fee was established over thirty years ago and goes toward paying off the debt from a previous expansion that improved student buildings like the Cross-Cultural Center, created additional food court spaces and increased available study spaces. While the Student Center is expected to see a reduction in debt by two million dollars in 2017, the reduction in student fees will be four million dollars.
Students need to come together to support the Student Center and continue the quality of service that UCI students deserve and have come to expect.
I was concerned when I heard that the fee was expiring before it had done its job. I have discovered that one of the reasons why the fee has not been enough is because of the unanticipated growth on campus. As the number of students increases, the cost of maintaining the Student Center increases as well.
In an effort to keep costs down for the campus community, the Student Center has not raised the cost of room rental fees to clients in over eight years. Student organizations pay no rental fees to use the facilities even when the number of registered student organizations skyrocketed from 200 to 600 and the number of bookings by student organizations for event space was over 18,000 last year. The Courtyard Study Lounge received 17,000 bookings by students last year alone.
In addition, the previous referendum that instated the fee did not take into account inflation costs and could not have predicted other expenses such as the insourcing of housekeeping staff at the support of students, increases in campus assessments, technological advancements, costs associated with maintaining a technological current facility and state funding losses.
Just as the students before us anticipated our needs and built a space for us to enjoy, it is now our turn to ensure the next generation of Anteaters are able to enjoy a Student Center that meets the expectations students deserve and have come to expect.
This week, from April 11 to April 15, the Student Center and Cross-Cultural Center Fee Referendum will be on the spring 2016 elections ballot. This new referendum does take inflation into account and addresses other issues that were overlooked in the previous referendum.
The best part of this referendum? There are no new fees. A vote in favor of the referendum simply maintains the current situation in the Student Center, and even expands its programming and services at no additional cost.
Continue the legacy of the Student Center by voting “yes.” For more information, please see the Student Center website at studentcenter.uci.edu.
Victoria Rosales is a fourth-year political sciences major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.