Another fee, but a nicer MC

USF students could be paying more than $20 a semester for renovations to the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

If approved by the Board of Trustees, a $20 flat fee will be added to students’ tuition along with a $1.50 per-credit-hour fee. The fee will help pay for the first phase in renovations to the Marshall Center, which are expected to cost about $29 million, said Joe Synovec, assistant director for student affairs.

Synovec said the fees would help bring improvements to the Marshall Center such as a larger food court with a sports grill, a new ballroom, an auditorium and more office space for student organizations.

If the BOT approves, the fees will begin in the fall and construction would most likely begin in 2004, giving architects enough time to make final designs for the project.

Trustees will vote on the fee in May.

Synovec said the project is to benefit students’ needs, however, he is aware that students may be unhappy with the cost.

“It’s a question in which we say, ‘Why me? I don’t use the (Marshall Center),'” Synovec said. “It’s just like a tax. We all pay to serve the community. Years ago, people paid for the Campus Recreation Center. Unfortunately, you have to have funds.”

A committee comprised of faculty, staff and students, appointed by student affairs and student body president Mike Griffin, met to determine the amount of the fees.

Mike Berman, senate president for Student Government, said the committee included eight members: four faculty and staff and four students.

Of the four students, two were SG members. Berman said to include a diverse representation of the student body the students included a non-traditional, graduate, resident and general student.

They chose the fee amounts based on the money that is already available for Marshall Center renovations.

Berman said there is $1.5 million in CITF funds available and $2.26 million in SG reserve to use toward the project. The difference in the cost will be made up by the fees.

The renovation, however, will only include one phase. Any future renovations will be left up to a new committee, Berman said.

“We didn’t want to nail students with a $50 million project right in the back,” Berman said. “We understand anytime we’re talking about a fee, we try to set it in the most responsible manner.”

Berman said student recruitment did play a part in the need to remodel the Marshall Center, but it is not the main focus.

“That was brought up, but for me that’s not it,” Berman said. “For me it’s making sure we have the space in the building.”

Griffin echoed Berman’s comments by saying the Marshall Center needs more room for organizations and the student body.

“We have a union that is grossly undersized. It is beyond time to have a new union,” Griffin said. “I made it absolutely no secret we would be doing this.”

Compared to fee proposals that were drafted in the original plan, Griffin said a $20 flat fee is not that much. Griffin said a $60 flat fee was discussed with original plans in 1999 and the proposed $20 fee is much more conservative.