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.”
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.