Students asked for input
Voting open for fee increase
Jay Benedict | Editor-in-Chief
The polling is open for students to have their say in Pitt State’s proposal to use $24 million in student fess over the next 20 years to finance three major construction projects.
“We usually deal with small fee increases in turn each year, but something of this nature is different,” said Steve Erwin, associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services. “We want to allow each individual student to have their say.”
Of the $24 million, $14 million is dedicated to the renovation and addition to the Overman Student Center. The remaining $10 million being asked of students is an estimate based on the amount the university believes private donors will contribute to the Fine and Performing Arts Center and the renovation and addition to the Weede Athletic Complex.
Currently, students are being asked to contribute $7 million for the performing arts center and $3 million for the Weede. Those figures are about 25 percent of the total cost of each project. Student contribution could be less depending on how much money comes in from private donors. Students will finance the entire student center upgrade.
President Steve Scott says a show of student support could influence more donors to come forward and alleviate some of the cost to students. PSU is expecting a seven-figure donation from a donor today. The name and exact figure will be announced at a press conference at 10 a.m. at the Wilkinson Alumni Center.
“There will be a significant gift made for the Fine and Performing Arts Center,” Erwin said. “But I’m not sure if it has any relationship to the students voting in the fees.”
If approved, the fees will gradually go into effect the fall semester of 2012. The first year, students will pay an extra $30 each semester on top the normal fee increases that occur each year. The fee will increase by $30 each academic year for the next four years after that. Since students pay fees each semester, they’ll pay $60 more each school year.
The fees will top out at an extra $150 each semester in the 2016-2017 academic year. After that, the university anticipates the fee dropping off to $105 each semester.
“We’re doing a graduated increase because we don’t need all of the money up front and it lessens the burden on students,” Erwin said. “Our timing allows us to spread it out.”
Erwin says the university plans to take out a bond for the cost of the projects and will use the student fees to pay it back. Most bonds last between 15-20 years. Erwin says PSU’s will last about 20 or 25 years.
“Hopefully we can secure enough funding from students and donors that we only have to take out a 20-year bond,” Erwin said. “That’s when the fee will sunset.”
The results of the vote will be taken tallied next Wednesday, March 14 and presented to SGA at their meeting that night. If the students are in favor, SGA plans to draft a resolution in support of the increase.
“SGA will vote on the resolution after spring break,” Erwin said. “It will then be sent as an advisory to President Scott.”
Erwin says the vote is more a gauge of student opinion and the administration can move forward without the students’ approval. If the students vote against it, SGA would then debate it as regular fee increase.
Voting opened yesterday and remains open until noon on Wednesday, March 14. Students can access the ballot through their GUS account. After logging in, select the menu item “Ballots, Surveys and Voter Registration” on the left side of the page.