Details of student recognition worked out

In return for the mandated $25 per-year contribution, students will have a special entrance with a carved arch.

Andrew Cummins

.The horseshoe shape of TCF Bank Stadium has become more apparent over recent months with the installation of steel beams.

At the same time, University officials and the Stadium Advisory Committee have decided how students should be recognized for their mandatory $12.50-per-semester financial contribution to the stadium.

Their decision yields a student benefits package, which includes a stadium entrance that pays homage to students and an opportunity for student groups and recreational sports to utilize stadium space.

The student entrance to the stadium will feature an arch with the phrase “Hats Off To Thee” carved into it, along with columns carved with text that thanks students for their contributions.

The stadium fee appears on students’ tuition bills after the Minnesota Legislature passed a controversial statute that mandated the fee in 2006.

An argument against the fee has been that students who won’t use the stadium shouldn’t have to pay for its construction.

Although he won’t be a student when the stadium opens, communications studies senior Michael Wicinski said the benefits package is a good way to recognize students and that the fee is correctly billed to all students.

“We pay for a bunch of other on-campus buildings and activities and groups that many students are also not a part of,” Wicinski said.

Assistant Athletics Director Phil Esten, who has facilitated the sharing of stadium information between student groups and the University, said there was a pressing need to decide on the benefits package, as contractors needed to start carving the stone that would be used to construct the student entrance.

Although portions of the benefits package weren’t finalized until recently, the outcome was a result of more than four years of meetings by the Stadium Advisory Committee – a process which Esten said was important.

“It’s not college football without students involved,” he said.

The idea of having a student- focused stadium entrance stemmed from student voice, said Amelious Whyte, chief of staff to the vice provost for student affairs.

“Students wanted some sort of benefit as a result of this,” he said. “They wanted some recognition for their financial contribution.”

The Office for Student Affairs has helped coordinate meetings and inform student groups of the opportunity to share their input about the stadium by joining the Stadium Advisory Committee, Whyte said.

Although the student entrance will be visible, it’s not the only aspect of the benefits package.

While the exact details are unclear, the committee and University officials have agreed that the stadium should be made available to various student activities, intramural sports and other events.

Esten said that because space is so limited on campus and because many groups will want to use the stadium, a priority-use document is being drawn up that will dictate who gets to use the stadium at what time.

The benefits package also includes the opportunity for student groups to take advantage of a plaza in front of the student entrance, which will be located on the stadium’s east side.

The Stadium Advisory Committee includes representatives from many student groups, including the Minnesota Student Association. It has been involved with deciding the number and location of student seats in the stadium.

Emma Olson, president of MSA, said the committee will continue to meet in order to address other stadium issues.

“We will be discussing ticketing, seating and many more logistical issues,” Olson said.

The first brick is expected to be laid at TCF Bank Stadium by April 10.