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Task force to discuss MC improvements

A $48 million makeover could be in the works soon for the Phyllis P. Marshall Center if student body president Mike Griffin?s plans become a reality.

Griffin has recruited a task force that will have its first meeting today in MC 283 at 4 p.m.

The team will discuss plans for enhancing USF?s student union, including expanding the ballroom and building more meeting rooms for student organizations. Griffin is setting his sights high and said in a few years, the Marshall Center will be a completely different building.

?It will be the marquee union in the south,? Griffin said. ?We are that confident.?

The task force is made up of approximately a dozen people, with representatives from the student government, graduate students and nonaffiliated students. Griffin said the task force is open, and he said he wants anybody with interest or ideas to participate.

?This is not political, anybody can join,? Griffin said.

Guy Conway, director for the Marshall Center, said the student union?s enhancement is justified, as the building is not large enough for USF?s population.

Conway said the Association for College Unions International, a group that regulates student unions, recommends 10 square feet of space per student. With an estimate of more than 27,000 students on Tampa?s campus, and 160,000 square feet in the Marshall Center, Conway said the math doesn?t add up.

?It?s really crowded,? Conway said. ?The size is woefully inadequate for our population.?

Conway said the new proposal increases the size of the Marshall Center to 260,000 square feet, bringing the Marshall Center closer to the ACUI?s recommendation.

Griffin said the project will be funded through the Capital Improvement Trust Fund, an across-the-board fee paid by all state university students. He said the fund helps pay for nonacademic buildings, most notably the new $6.9 million roof for the Sun Dome.

Griffin said he will submit a long-term proposal which raises the CITF fee by $1 and helps pay for the project.

?My goal is that we send this proposal to Tallahassee this spring, get it approved and break ground anytime after July 1, 2002,? Griffin said.

He also said he wants to secure corporate funds for the project and will solicit local businesses for donations.

Jessica Pawelkop, former student body president, spearheaded the movement to enhance the Marshall Center in 1998.

She called together a task force of about 50 people and broke them down into teams that dealt with all aspects of the enhancement, including facilities, programming, marketing and funding.

She said the plan at the time was to raise the activities and services fee ? money used to pay for student organizations ? coupled with the CITF to pay for the project. Her proposal to raise the A&S fee, however, was not approved.

Pawelkop said Griffin?s plan to raise the CITF makes sense.

?I think the way Mike is going about this is awesome,? she said. ?This is what the CITF is for.?

Griffin said today?s meeting will lay out the major plans for the project and assign specific duties.

?After we meet (today), people will be making things happen,? he said. ?We need to break some eggs here to make the ultimate omelet that is an enhanced Marshall Center.?

Contact Ryan Meehanat