Students decide fate

by Rebecca Czaplewski

Editor’s note: In light of recent debate about the proposed $50 million renovation to Coffman Union, The Minnesota Daily sent reporters to three other student unions around the Big Ten to see how Coffman’s plan compares to other unions. This story is a summary of upcoming union events; profiles of the unions are on pages 15 to 18.

Within the next five days, students will know whether they’ll have to pay $45 million to renovate Coffman Union. The 13-member Student Services Fees Committee will make their final fees decisions Saturday, including how much students should pay for the proposed renovation.
Last week, a fees sub-committee approved a plan allocating $35 million for the renovation. While the full committee must still approve the proposal, the sub-committee’s action shows that students will most likely shoulder at least some of the proposed renovations.
To fund the renovation, Coffman Union officials made a request for $45 million in student services fees to cover the $50 million project, with the remaining $5 million to be paid for by the Campus Club, University Dining Services and University Bookstores.
A “phased-in” approach has been proposed, one that would increase student services fees slowly for the next three years: $30 more per student for the first year, $60 more for the second year and $90 more for the third year. Fees would remain at $90 per year until the 20-year bond is paid off.
Student services fees, which are paid for by students who register for six or more credits, are currently $480.69 per year. By the 2001-02 school year the renovation would raise the fees to $570.69 per year, if the request is approved.
Officials cannot use money from the state because Coffman Union is not considered an educational facility.
The renovation is slated to begin in spring semester 2000 and be completed during fall semester 2001. The project would take 18 months to complete, during which time the student union would be closed. Among other things, the renovation would add air conditioning, a 24-hour computer lab and improved access to the union.