SGA to debate student fee for campus center updates


by Katie Anthony/Staff Writer

Five years ago, the Student Government Association sat down and hashed out the details for a student fee to help fund a new campus center.

Last month, Simpson College President John Byrd met with SGA members with a new proposal for the campus center.

The proposal states that there will not be a brand new campus center, but rather the current Brenton Student Center will undergo a remodel.

“We thought we might be able to do something sooner, if we expanded the current campus center,” Byrd said. “We think it can be done at a considerably lower cost than what we had planned. It was in an effort to save money, and to provide a new campus center to the students sooner.”

While it is unknown how much money will be saved, Byrd assures the students and members of SGA that the remodel of the current student center will not be lacking.

“First, when people walk into it, there needs to be a sense of ‘wow, this is an interesting place,'” Byrd said. “Second, we need to make sure that we can integrate the existing facility into this facility in a way that it captures the mood, the feel and the excitement of whatever it is we build new. And thirdly, that we have the space that we need in the campus center that was part of the original plan.”

With this new proposal for the campus center came the reminder of the original contract between SGA and Byrd.

The original plan said that students would pay a fee every year for a new student center, a $100 bill students have paid since the 2006-07 school year.

“Technically, in the original contract that the SGA passed five years ago, they agreed to pay the fee to a certain amount of time as long as the process of the building kept going” Macy Koch, junior student body vice president, said. “And with that, we are technically supposed to break ground by the end of this year, and we don’t think we’ll be able to do that, which is why we’re looking into re-do it.”

Dan Carver, a 2006 graduate, was serving as student body president when Byrd approached SGA about the student fee. Carver worked with Byrd to negotiate a contract. Now, he says he has some concerns.

“I wanted to see something done with the money by now, not just have it sit in a pot somewhere,” Carver said. “I’m disappointed that a new student center won’t be built and that it’s taken so long, and that it’s looking to be a remodel. But I’m glad that money will be used for the students, rather than something else entirely.”

“I understand why it’s taken so long, when the bill was passed, none of us could have foreseen the economic recession.”

The fee is now under review, and possibly undergoing revisions with the current SGA. While there is a chance that the bill may be annulled, Koch believes that the fee will remain in some way, shape or form.

“We sent out a survey asking students how they felt about continuing the student fee and we actually had a higher number of students saying that they want to continue the fee,” Koch said. “There was definitely a lot more for paying it than against it. I believe that students really want to see a building.”

Carver said he would urge the current SGA members to keep the contract, but with more specific guidelines.

“Put some very clear and specific guidelines into whatever you decide to do,” Carver said. “By this time, we need something. We need to talk about this money; otherwise it becomes null and void, so that they can’t ignore the issue. Do not just do away with this money – that would send a bad message to donors and donators. Make more guidelines and hold administration to those guidelines.”