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New building should be deemed ‘student center’

November 16, 2006

At Tuesday’s meeting, Senate passed a motion to recognize the new University Center as a student center. The motion was tabled at last week’s meeting at the recommendation of Senator Jim Vierling.

Student Senate Finance Director Adam Koski initiated the motion at the Nov. 7 meeting, and said the building should be deemed a “student center” since about $33 million of the money used to fund the project came from student fees.

“To me, a student union or student center is simply more appropriate,” Koski said. “The students built the building, and it is going to be a place for student life activities.”

Koski said the building, though officially named a University Center, will probably be recognized by students as a student center, and the title of University Center will eventually be phased out as students begin calling it what they want. He said he does not want the name to be officially changed, just recognized as something other than a University Center.

Last week, Vierling, the Senate chair of the Facilities and Fees Board, pointed out that there had been numerous changes in the name the building would retain once completed.

“The reasons for the name being changed are, as it turns out, simple,” Vierling said. “The UW System labels all new student centers, while they are being built, as student unions.

Vierling said once the building is completed and opened for student use, the university can decide what it will be called.

“The term University Center is being used because it is in the center of campus, as well as the fact that it will be where everything on campus is,” Vierling said. “It gives the campus a solid meeting place for everyone.”

There have been rumors circulating as to whether the facility will be named after the late Ann Lydecker, who served as chancellor at UWRF from 2002 to 2004. Vierling said such a move would be inappropriate given the circumstances of the funding of the University Center.

“Buildings are typically named after people who donate a lot of money,” Vierling said.

“Being that this building is entirely student paid for, I don’t think it should be named after any person.”

Vierling also said naming the building a “student union” would be inappropriate given the multiple meanings behind the term.

“In Europe, they call theirs ‘student unions’ because people must purchase a membership card to get in — which we don’t do,” he said. “The original term ‘union’ was to symbolize the union of Rodli and Hagestad to one building, and the union of east and west sides of campus. However, because ‘union’ has another definition that implies exclusivity, it isn’t really being considered anymore.”

The current Student Center, along with numerous other structures on campus, is student funded, yet there was no recognition of this involvement when it was named.

“For those that argue that it should be a Student Center because it’s student funded, they need to rethink that logic,” Vierling said. “Rodli, all the res halls, half of Hunt-Knowles, a portion of Karges, Ramer Field and the child center are all paid for by students — none of them have the ‘student’ title in them.”

Though Senate has a say in what the name of the building should be, it does not have the authority to name the building.

“The administration and UW System will ultimately do what they want,” Koski said.

The new University Center will open at the beginning of spring semester.

Other Senate news

  • After the Nov. 9 report of sexual battery on campus, Senate President Joe Eggers has been in contact with Campus Planner Dale Braun to discuss the possibility of installing lights along the bike path between Ramer Lot and N-Lot. After a Dec. 5 meeting, the Senate members will take a campus safety walk on the path, highlighting dangerous areas.
  • The results from the Nov. 7 elections were tallied, and the number of students who voted on campus was up 138 percent from the 2002 mid-term election. This is the highest increase in student voters in the state. Senate worked to increase voter turnout by registering voters and promoting the “Get Out the Vote” campaign.

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