Poly students vote on fee increase to fund Rec Center expansion



Starting Feb. 27, students at Cal Poly began two days of voting on an Associated Students Inc.-supported referendum that would increase student fees by $65 per quarter in order to finance an expansion of the university's recreation center.

This referendum comes on the heels of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recommendation to cut $312.9 million from the California State University system in his 2008-09 budget proposal and a proposed 10 percent increase in student fees starting next year.

"This is the program students asked ASI to investigate," ASI President Brandon Souza said in an e-mail interview. "They identified the components they wanted most. We have worked hard to provide what they have asked for at the lowest possible cost."

Currently, the center serves as a gym and occasional music venue at Cal Poly. It was built in 1993 to accommodate the needs of a 16,000-student campus. Over the last 14 years, Cal Poly's student population has swelled to more than 19,000, and lines for treadmills have abounded. The proposed expansion will double the size of usable space in the building and add more equipment.

The cost for the 69,200-square-feet proposed to be added to the building is $72 million, but that's only the base cost and doesn't include costs for preconstruction design, interest on the bonds over 30 years, and operations of the facility once completed, Souza wrote.

Data from a fall 2004 survey showed that 66 percent of 4,400 students supported an expansion and renovation of the Rec Center. According to a Cal Poly voter pamphlet, during fall 2006 and winter/spring 2007, results of visits by University Union leaders to campus organizations and residence halls reflected the sentiments of the earlier survey.

The students who took part in the survey and the students currently voting on the fee increase will most likely never have to pay it. If all goes according to schedule, the recreation center expansion will open in 2011, when the fee increase would kick in.

"Students overwhelmingly favored this option, based primarily on the concept that those who benefit from using the facility should be the ones who pay for it," Souza wrote. "When the original recreation center was built, students paid for many years and graduated before being able to use it."

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