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Funding of new Marshall Center causes concerns

It’s that time of the semester again: Students are informed that the planned renovation and enhancement of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center are well on track. As usual, the announcement leaves most of the details shrouded in mystery, most importantly, the definite time the new building will open.

Students get apprehensive about such announcements, as many object to paying fees for the construction of a building that is likely to be completed around the same time — if not after — many of them graduate and leave USF.

The problem USF faces is a tricky one. Since its founding in the ’50s USF has grown immensely. The university had gradually outgrown many of its facilities and the Marshall Center is among those. The university will have to cater to the needs of the students without burdening them with too much of the cost.

According to the university, Tampa campus enrollment now totals 35,081. The Marshall Center, functioning as both the home of the student union, as well as many amenities students have come to expect on campus, will have to grow to cater to such a large number of potential patrons.

The trick will be to come up with a financial plan that does not drop all the costs for projects, such as the Marshall Center renovation in the lap of those who will likely not use them. But planners are aware of such fears and are working on plans that would ease the monetary burden by taking out loans and spreading out the financing over more time.

In the long term, a new building which functions as a focal point on campus, bringing students together in numerous activities, is needed. The lofty goal that is often repeated by the university’s administration to get USF away from the stigma of being a commuter school will otherwise not be possible.

Past branding efforts, such as a new logo and slogan, have attempted to give USF an identity. A new Marshall Center has the chance to help realize such lofty goals. How to finance the project is just one of the hurdles that will have to be jumped.