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Extreme Makeover: UCen Edition

Student Officials, Administrators Plan to Extend UCen, Proposal To Be Put to a Vote Come Spring Semester


The University Center faces the possibility of an upcoming $38 million renovation if students pass a lock-in fee for the project this spring, with the possible UCen overhaul including installation of a Health and Wellness Center, a resource center for veterans and former faculty, a student-managed environmental sustainability center and increased space for Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS).

The lock-in fee for UCen renovations would cost roughly $20 per quarter beginning next fall and it would increase to $60 per quarter in Fall 2018. The fee would last 30 years unless other sources of revenue are found, and it will be up for vote during A.S. elections this spring. Of the $38 million price tag on the project, $5 million will come from current university funds, $8 million from various funding reserves and the last $25 million from a lock-in fee that students will vote on this spring. Planning and other preparation for the actual UCen renovations is slated to begin around this May and the entire project is expected to be completed by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

In 2012, student officials tried passing a lock-in fee of $27.56 per quarter for a completely new student service building called the Student Engagement Center, which was expected to offer some of the same services as those of the UCen renovations, such as a resource center for student veterans. The project’s quarterly fee of $27.56 was voted down.

A.S. President Jonathan Abboud said the fee for UCen renovations would start small, but increase from $20 to $60 per quarter in 2018 to pay for higher construction costs later down the road.

“The first four years will feature a small fee that will pay for soft costs such as architects, while the next 30 years will feature a larger fee that will pay for the actual construction,” Abboud said.

Kyley Scarlet, Internal Vice President for A.S., said she supports the proposed renovation because it is less expensive than earlier efforts at increasing student services, such as the Student Engagement Center project back in 2012.

“Jonathan has done an amazing job of bringing the costs down significantly and providing spaces for various student groups,” Scarlet said.

According to Abboud, the part of the UCen next to Subway and Nicoletti’s will be torn out and transformed into a 24-hour study space with glass walls that look over the lagoon and ocean. The Multicultural Center will be expanded, and the Associated Students Food Bank will receive a space in which to distribute fresh produce to students.

Although there has been talk of making changes to the UCen in the past, this is the first time a renovation will feature a fee that students vote on. Abboud said changes to the UCen were largely opposed by former UCen director Alan Kirby, who retired two years ago.

“There were always proposals for a Student Engagement Center next to the SRB [Student Resource Building], but nothing really came of it,” Abboud said. “Our main opposition to the project retired two years ago… [So] this year, I ran on this idea of turning the student center into a place that is truly ours.”

University centers at UCLA, UC Davis and UC Berkeley are more student-led, according to Abboud, who said he wishes to have the UCSB UCen also feature a large amount of student management and oversight. Scarlet agreed with the need for such a facility, saying she sees the current UCen as undesirable to most students.

“Our campus lacks that central space,” Scarlet said. “If you look at all the other UC campuses, they all have that central space for students. Here, no one goes to the UCen, and no one wants to go to the UCen unless they need to buy books, so this will provide a space that will bring students to campus much more.”


Should students vote to go through with the renovation, the UCen will build a new 24-hour study center as well as expand the Multicultural Center and AS Food Bank. According to Associated Students President Jonathon Abboud, the project will not significantly increase student fees.

Should students vote to go through with the renovation, the UCen will build a new 24-hour study center as well as expand the Multicultural Center and AS Food Bank. According to Associated Students President Jonathan Abboud, the project will not significantly increase student fees.

Photo by John Clow / Daily Nexus


A version of this story appeared on page 1 of Wednesday, January 15, 2014′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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3 Responses to Extreme Makeover: UCen Edition

  1. the truth Reply

    January 22, 2014 at 10:01 am

    For the record, about 4 years ago Alan Kirby did propose a renovation that students voted on and it didn’t pass. Get your facts straight.

  2. The Honest Economist Reply

    January 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Hard questions that need to be asked:

    1) Where does the figure of $38 million come from? Refurbishing the UCenn so that its more aesthetically pleasing doesn’t change the UCenn’s function. This would be a waste of money to “polish” an existing building that would ultimately serve the same purpose afterwards.

    2) Can $38 million instead be spent to build another building on campus that facilitates additional study space for students? If the objective of the renovation is to provide study space, why not build a new building that actually offers additional study space?

    3) Why are we passing on the debt to future generations with adjusted fees. I would enjoy the amenities of a renovated building or a new building (assuming I would be here in X years when the project is finished?), but it is morally wrong and a fundamental misuse of authority to penalize a group that doesn’t yet have a voice.

    • Jonathan Abboud Reply

      January 17, 2014 at 10:17 am


      1) It is actually $33 million ($28 student fees, $3 student affairs, $2.1 AS reserves) + $5 million in fundraising by the campus for it. The “polish” is a very very small aspect of the the project. In fact, it will be building many additions to the UCEN that will serve as CLAS space, study space, and student resource space.

      2) It is much cheaper to renovate and build onto a building than to build a new one.

      3) This is UC Policy to do it this way, we can only assess the fee on those who will be here when it opens in 2018. We wanted to start it earlier to make the cost distribution more fair, but UC Office of the President said we could not.

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