Coffman

Rebecca Czaplewski

If the current state of Coffman Union can be compared to a rusty 1972 Gremlin, then representatives of Coffman presented a fees request Saturday asking to upgrade the Union to a shiny new Saturn.
Using the analogy of different car models to emphasize the need to renovate the union, members from various Coffman Union committees and programs presented their request to the fees committee, which will make their decision in early spring. The presentation, which lasted more than five hours, was held before an audience of about 30 people. There was no mistaking the importance the Coffman Union committee felt in the renovation fees request.
“The path we choose in the next weeks will be our legacy,” said Michael Holland, a representative of Coffman Union.
The request asked for approval of the renovation, which would cost $45 million in student service fees, and nearly $500,000 in capital funding.
The renovation request asked the fees committee to allocate the $45 million of student service fees from a 20-year bond. A “phased-in” approach was proposed, which would slowly increase student services fees over the next three years: $30 more for the first year, $60 more for the second year and $90 more for the third year. Fees would remain at the additional $90 a year until the bond is paid off.
Student services fees, which are paid for by students who are registered for six or more credits, are currently $160.23 per quarter. Since student services fees cost $480.69 per year, by the 2001-02 school year the renovation would raise the fees to $570.69 per year.
The entire project would cost an estimated $50 million, with the remaining $5 million paid for by the Campus Club, University Dining Services and University Bookstores.
In a multimedia presentation that included slides, a video and proposed sketches of the renovated Coffman Union, the board asked members of the fees committee to look toward the future of the University when considering to fund the renovation.
“We need to think outside the box for this project,” said Cale Schultz, vice president for the Coffman Board of Governors.
Approval for the renovation comes at a particularly critical time with the beginning of the South Mall project, said several board members. That project includes a new parking ramp and an apartment-style residence hall in the South Mall area. Many board members believe that if Coffman isn’t renovated at the same time, it will become an enormous eyesore for the East Bank.
“It will be an old facility in the mist of new development,” said Jorg Rivera, president for the Coffman Board of Governors.
The board maintained that through the renovation, all parts of the union would be strengthened. Among other things, the renovation would add air conditioning, 24-hour computer labs and improved access to the union. The 18-month renovation would begin in spring semester 2000 and be completed during fall semester 2001.
Representatives of Coffman Union have toured 12 other student unions throughout the country to help redesign Coffman.
Throughout intense question-and-answer sessions between the fees committee and Coffman representatives, the Coffman representatives voiced their opinions of the urgent need for renovation and acknowledged there are no other options.
“The time for renovation has finally come, and the time is now,” Holland said, “The truth is, there is no plan B. It’s up to the students to decide what will happen.”
The Coffman representatives stressed that all other possibilities for outside funding had been exhausted. The University Foundation did a fund-raising feasibility project for the renovation which determined that private fund raising wasn’t a feasible option.
Hardy Jackson, chairman of the fees committee, spoke on the importance of the issue.
“These six people represent 80,000 students,” Jackson said, later adding, “This isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s tough.”