BY: ZEYNAB DAY
The proposed Phase II expansion of the Fitness and Wellness and Center did not pass in the Student Senate vote Tuesday evening. The necessary 16 votes fell short by one.
Madelyn Street, student body president, said the vote would have passed under standard protocol, but the Council of Post-Secondary Education requires referendums of this type to have a larger marginal vote of 75 percent in order to pass to the Board of Regents because its effect on the student body as a whole.
Street said under the Council of Post-Secondary Education protocol a campus wide vote with 25 percent of approval from the student body could have been permissible as well but votes of that type in the past have had poor turn and may not have been a clear representation of student opinion.
Street said the legislation was brought before the council last week but was tabled for one week after extensive debate. She said she encouraged senate representatives to talk to students preceding this week’s vote to gain a clearer picture of how students felt about the expansion.
Senate members offered feedback Tuesday during an open discussion of the referendum, voicing both concerns about the expansion as well as points supporting the expansion.
Topics such as the $25 recreational fee, impact commuter parking, improvements to current recreational facilities and date of completion were mentioned as opposition.
Other members proposed the expansion could be beneficial by serving as a recruiting tool for incoming students thus improving the overall appeal of the university.
When asked about the vote Nichole Arbino, executive vice president of Student Senate, said it was a hard call.
“I honestly was really torn on it,” Arbino said. “Everyone made such good arguments.”
Arbino said she hoped the expansion would eventually be a reality but for now there are many other areas of the campus which could benefit from improvements as well.
Street said one of the biggest challenges the Student Government Association (SGA) faces when voting on anything effecting the overall student population is formulating an idea of what is representative of the majority of student opinion.
“It’s hard to get a full assessment of what students want,” Street said.
Street said polls, as well as student body votes, have had a low turnout in the past. Street hopes to improve communication between the SGA and student body and encourages students to voice their opinions on subjects of importance to them, which would in turn enable SGA to better serve the student body.
Street said the SGA is currently examining future considerations regarding the Phase II expansion of the Fitness and Wellness Center as it is an on-going process.