SG senate examines funds

The Student Government senate wants to re-evaluate how the university spends state construction funds.

Senators discovered mid-semester that all of the $13.2 million in the Captial Improvement Trust Fund was going to be used toward the Phyllis P. Marshall Center renovation project, said Brandon Faza, senator for the College of Arts and Sciences.

State government provides CITF revenue to universities to use toward construction on campuses. The senate formed a committee last Tuesday to examine alternative uses of the fund.

Faza said he believed $1 million of the fund could be used for an electronic billboard similar to the one on Fowler Avenue by the Sun Dome, an idea that was discussed at the meeting. Faza added that about $65,000 could possibly be used toward the Sept. 11 memorial. A bid to fund the 9/11 Memorial from Activities and Services fees failed when the senate voted against it.

“After the big debate about the 9/11 Memorial, Bijal had said that he was going to see if we could use money for the 9/11 fund and (the senate) found out that the CITF fund was going to the Marshall Center,” Faza said. “We wanted to form a committee to see if we could come up with other ideas where that money could be spent on campus, such as the College of Visual Performing Arts, which is in desperate need of renovations.”

Student Body President Bijal Chhadva said during the summer, the official committee made up of faculty, staff and students made the recommendation to use CITF funds for the Marshall Center.

Chhadva added that any recommendations that the senate committee makes, such as the use of $1 million for an electronic billboard, funding the 9/11 Memorial or construction to other parts of campus, would have to be approved by the official administrative committee. If not approved, any other plans or ideas would have to wait, because all the money is allocated toward the restoration of the student union.

“The Marshall Center is our first priority,” Chhadva said. “As of right now the idea for an electronic billboard is just a plan and would have to wait if the committee says they want the funds to go towards the Marshall Center.”

The idea for an electronic billboard, which would be placed at the intersection of North Palm Drive and Fletcher Avenue, came up when Chhadva and student body Vice President Andrew Aubery ran for the position during the spring semester. Chhadva said the idea was on their platform.

“We wanted to be able to advertise student events, sporting events and activities on campus, and so on our platform we had the idea for an electronic billboard,” he said. “A lot of people who live on and/or around campus didn’t know what was going on on campus.”

The $1 million price tag is just an estimate, Chhadva said.

“You never know how much it will cost once someone gets out here to look,” he said. “We wanted to be able to set aside that money so once we get a price we have the funds. If it turns out to be less than that we would definitely reallocate that money to other things.”

Faza said he did some research on other universities nationwide and he hasn’t seen an electronic billboard cost $1 million.

“I saw a student government working on something similar at another college and they were only going to spend about $150,000 on a billboard and they were going to fundraise for it,” Faza said. “The idea is a good one so we can advertise. I just don’t think we should use those funds for it. We could fundraise for it.”

Faza is organizing the senate committee to re-evaluate where the CITF money should be used. There is a meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the Marshall Center. The exact location is to be announced, but the meeting is open to students, faculty and staff.

“This is our second chance to field student opinion on what they think should be constructed on campus,” Faza said. “We want to research to see if we really need all of the money for the Marshall Center and if not, what can we spend the money on.”