By Gina Vaile/Managing editor

The university broke ground in February for a new state-of-the-art Fitness and Wellness Center with a price tag of $7 million. Now, university officials plan to ask the Eastern Board of Regents to impose an additional fee for students to pay for the upkeep of the facility and additional phases of the project. “This is a $21 million project and there is no guarantee that Phase II and III will be funded,” said James Conneely, who presented the proposal to the Student Senate at the regular business meeting April 8.

Working with Mike Reagle, associate vice president for student affairs, and John Jewell, director of campus recreation, Conneely suggested to the Senate a proposed fee that was in the ball park of what students agreed to pay in a survey sent out to Eastern students two years ago.

The suggested fees are:

-$60 per year for full-time undergraduate and graduate students

-$30 per year for part-time undergraduate and graduate students

-$30 per summer semester for full-time undergraduate and graduate students

-$15 per summer semester for part-time undergraduate and graduate students

-$180 per year membership fee for faculty wishing to use the facility

“With these fees, we would generate $884,000,” Conneely said.

“There was some student support of a fee of this nature,” Jewell said, noting 2,300 surveys were sent out to students in HPR 180 and 280 classes. Approximately 1,000 of those were returned, some of which supported a fee.

Conneely said in order to maintain the 41,000 square-foot building, the school could place a 3 percent increase on the fee.

Freshman Senator Amanda Deerfield said she was concerned there are already too many buildings designated for fitness and wellness, asking Conneely if the building of gyms was ever going to stop on the campus.

Jewell answered that while the Moberly Building and the Weaver Gym will remain open, the Begley Building may close.

“The facilities currently in there are a very low use area,” he said, stating there are no vents in the racquetball courts, the basketball courts are not regulation size and there are old weight rooms with aging equipment.

According to Conneely, the money raised by increased fees for the new building will be earmarked for use only for the new Fitness and Wellness Center. While Conneely admitted the funds could technically roll over into general university funds, it will not.

“The student advisory board will step in before that happens,” Conneely said.

The advisory group would consist of students, faculty and staff and would have input on policies, programs and space allocations in regards to the building.

According to Conneely, the advisory group would run the building and be self-sufficient. It would also have a say in delegating the budget earmarked from student fees.