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UWS students approve $1.2 million in improvements to Wessman Arena
Rebecca Johns
The Daily Telegram
Date: Friday, February 27th, 2004 10:15:21 AM

Nearly $1.2 million in improvements to Wessman Arena narrowly received the stamp of approval by University of Wisconsin-Superior students in a referendum vote held Wednesday and Thursday with 368 yes votes to 310 no votes; however, UWS students overwhelmingly said no to additional student center fees that would increase by $78 per year for seven years to finance the $19.5 million construction of a new student center building.

With a 421-250 vote, the students squashed the student center portion of the referendum that would have eventually raised the student center fee from $169 to $715 by the 2010-11 school year and sent the student senate and administration back to the drawing board to seek other options.

Vice-Chancellor Jan Hanson said the Rothwell student center is over 40 years old and is in need of major repairs. “The number of infrastructure issues and the condition of the food preparation area were the impetus to look at a new building,” Hanson said. She said the roof leaks, the windows leak and the exterior walls leak — just to name a few of the problems with the existing building.

The conceptual design of the new building, Hanson said, would have provided a more efficient use of space and reduced the size from 113,000 square feet to approximately 100,000 square feet, adding more green space to the campus.

“I am delighted to see the level of interest and voter turnout,” Hanson said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “If it does fail, though, we want to engage the students’ input to put together a plan that students can support.”

In an interview Thursday night, Student Senate President Brad Amys said following the final tally the student senate will present an analysis report to the chancellor next week with a recommendation. “I would anticipate the chancellor will move forward with the Wessman Arena project and send the Rothwell Student Center project back to the senate committee,” he said.

UWS student Kevin Korpela said he and other students believe the student senate and the administration are not being forthright and giving the students all the options to consider for the student center project. However, Amys said the senate did tell students of three options that included repairing the existing building, adding on a new kitchen and cafeteria area, or rebuilding.

“The information was given to them,” Amys said.

Amys said the senate supported the new building as a whole. “It’s the best value on the dollar,” he said. He noted there is $4 million donation from the foundation that the school could lose if it doesn’t rebuild.

Students will be paying higher fees for the Wessman Arena improvements, but those fees will only increase $20 over a two-year period.

“I can afford that,” UWS student Umidjon Salimov said. Fifty-one percent of the Wessman Arena project is also expected to be funded by the state.

The arena improvements include a 4,600-square foot addition that will house two varsity locker rooms, a training room, a stretching and conditioning room, additional storage space, plus provide remodeling of the existing locker rooms, and minor remodeling of other support areas like concessions and public restrooms.

[This article is a reprint from www.superiorwi.com.]

© Kevin Korpela, www.observatorydrive.com